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Yuanbaoshan fir

Latin name: Abies yuanbaoshanensis

Areas: | China |

IUCN Red List conservation status

About: Yuanbaoshan fir

The Yuanbaoshan fir is found only in the Yuanbao Mountains of north Guangxi, China. This imposing tree is distinguished by its barrel-shaped green-brown cones and it was only described as a new species to science in 1980. Alongside its close relative the Ziyuan fir (Abies ziyuanensis), the species is considered one of the most highly threatened trees in China.

There are only thought to be around 700 of these trees left in the wild, and the population structure mainly comprises either old individuals or very young ones. There are very few breeding-aged plants in the wild, meaning opportunities for natural regeneration are limited.

  • Due to its extreme rarity, in 1982 the Guangxi Provincial Government established Yuanbaoshan National Nature Reserve to protect this tree.
  • The species has an extremely restricted range (around 20 hectares) and faces a high degree of human disturbance with seedlings often trampled by tourists and medicinal plant collectors.
  • The Yuanbao Mountains, where this tree is found, contain the only remaining habitat for this species in Guangxi Province.
  • The population was impacted by a severe winter in 2008 and a number of trees died.
  • Recent surveys supported by the Global Trees Campaign doubled the known global population from 280 to more than 700.

To help boost the population of this rare species, Fauna & Flora International’s (FFI) China programme and the Guangxi Institute of Botany provided training to technical staff from Yuanbaoshan National Nature Reserve and helped them secure funding from the Flagship Species Fund in 2012.

With additional support from Save Our Species (SOS) in 2014 and 2015, FFI will also be supporting Yuanbaoshan National Nature Reserve to help them improve protection and habitat management for the species and increase numbers by more than 10%, by planting at least 100 seedlings in the forest.

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