Red listing priority timber trees

In partnership with IUCN and Toyata, GTC are managing a project to red list priority timber trees from across the world. By the end of this 5 year project 1,500 timber tree species will have an IUCN standard red list assessment. This will contribute to target 2 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and expand GTC’s red listing contributions.

Many commercially used timber species lack an up-to-date conservation status assessment. Over the course of this 5 year project 1,500 of the world’s timber tree species will be red listed using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. This is essential to prevent the extinction of global timber species which would have a negative impact on human wellbeing and the global economy.

Global timber species are threatened by illegal trading, unsustainable logging and forestry practises, and land conversion. The conservation assessments will highlight which species are most at risk and prioritise species in need of conservation action and/or species management. On a larger scale it could help guide commercial timber use towards less threatened, more abundant and less frequently used species. It is hoped the data will be used to help inform international trade and harvest quotas.

There is often a lack of documentation and knowledge on global timber species. In 2014, Mark et al. produced ‘A working list of commercial timber tree species’, the first of its kind. This list contains the names of 1,575 timber taxa as gathered from 17 sources and will provide the backbone for this project. Among other sources, CITES listed species and and FAO’s State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources Review (2014) will also be used to prioritise species.

In each year of the project different taxonomic groups or geographic regions will be targeted for red listing. The first instalment of the project will produce conservation assessments for timber species from Europe and within the families of Dipterocarpaceae, Theaceae and the genera Quercus and Fraxinus.

GTC timber trees

41 trees on GTC Threatened Tree pages are used for timber including: Dalbergia nigra, Swietenia macrophyla and Fitzroya cupressoides. GTC also has conservation projects in place to conserve threatened timber species for example – Save our Cedar- Malawi’s national tree and the global action plan for Zelkova species.


Did you know?

Trees from the Dipterocarp family are the dominant species in Southeast Asia’s rainforests.  In some cases, they comprise up to 90% of the canopy layer.