The mountain habitat of C. hebestroma exists entirely within one of the most popular tourist destinations of Taiwan, Taroko Gorge National Park. While the requirement for permits limits human access to the steep trails nearest to the species, C. hebestroma remains threatened by the results of the increasing intensity of seasonal rain and typhoons within Taiwan.
C. hebestroma, a small deciduous tree to 8m tall, is found in a restricted habitat range within Taroko Gorge National Park, a home it shares with the more common and widespread C. kawakamii. These two species are very similar and can be distinguished by differences in their leaf margins and bracts which surround the nut of each species. Both species prefer to live in steep limestone slope habitats which are common in the area. However, the species are threatened by landslides which occur due to high rains and extreme weather events such as typhoons. The increased severity and frequency of storms and typhoons in Taiwan means such landslides are becoming more common.
In 2014, C. hebestroma was assessed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to the restricted range and decline of habitat and population size due to likely natural events such as landslides. At the same time an assessment of the global ex situ collections of Betulaceae was completed, revealing that the threatened C. hebestroma was not known to exist in any collection. In order to conserve the species outside its threatened habitat the creation of ex situ collections was recommended as well as an assessment of the current population size.
As part of a Global Trees Campaign project, The Taiwan Forestry Research Institute (TFRI) has partnered with the Dr. Cecilia Koo Botanic Conservation Center and the National Museum of Natural Science to conduct surveys of the known habitat, collect specimens for identification and seed to create ex situ living collections. A representative ex situ collection of this species will ensure the conservation of this species in the face of increasing threat from landslides during the seasonal rains and typhoons.
This profile was written with information provided by Chien-Fan Chen/TFRI and with photos by Jean Linsky/BGCI and Bi-Cheng Tsai/KBCC.
Beech, E., Shaw, K., & Jones, M. 2015. Global Survey of Ex situ Betulaceae Collections. BGCI.
Roy, S., Shaw, K. & Wilson, B. 2016. Carpinus hebestroma. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T194577A2350438.en. Accessed: 02/06/2017
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Kew’s Millenium Seed Bank Partnership currently provides ex situ conservation for more than 3,900 tree species