Taxonomy

endemique
protegee
UICN

Red List Status -

Critically Endangered (CR) , assessed in 10/09/2015

Protected species -

in Northern Province , in Northern Province

Litsea racemiflora is a shrub endemic to the north of Grande Terre in New Caledonia. Within a complex genus, Litsea racemiflora is a discrete taxonomic entity. It is known from two subpopulations (Tiébaghi and Ouégoa) and is is found in shrubland on ultramafic substrates at an altitudinal range of 100-550 m asl. The main threats are linked to ongoing mining activities in the Tiébaghi area and bushfires at Ouégoa. Extraction projections for the coming 25 years could lead to the extinction of the main subpopulation. Litsea racemiflora is therefore considered as Critically Endangered (CR) under criterion A4c with an inferred population reduction of more than 80% over three generations (75 years) starting in 1970 and projected to 2045.

Geographical area


Litsea racemiflora is a shrub endemic to the north of Grande Terre in New Caledonia. It is known from two subpopulations (Tiébaghi and Ouégoa).

Population


Population size is unknown. Field surveys seems to indicate that the Thiébaghi subpopulation is the largest. Mining extraction projections for the coming 25 years could lead to the extinction of the impacted subpopulation and thus contribute to the potential reduction of the total population size.

Habitat


Litsea racemiflora is found in shrubland on ultramafic substrates at an altitudinal range of 100-550 m asl.

Threats


The main threat is presented by ongoing mining development in Thiébaghi area. The twenty five year projection for mining operations indicates that most of the known individuals will disappear. New Caledonia contains 20 - 30% of the world’s nickel resources and has experienced intense mining activities since the late 19th century which has generated soil erosion (1.2% of bare ground mapped by SPOT5 in 2007). Based on the distribution of metal-rich soils and site accessibility, these threats are predictable and planned (there was a rise in nickel production from 60,000 to 200,000 tonnes per year between 2013 and 2015). The Ouégoa subpopulation is also under a heightened threat from bushfire. Uncontrolled fires sweep across lowlands of New Caledonia each year, especially during the dry season (an average of 20,000 ha of land is burnt each year).

Conservation


Endemic species within the Litsea genus are protected by legislation in New Caledonia but this species does not occur in any protected area. Through a partnership in 2015 with IAC (Institut Agronomique néo-Calédonien) and SLN (Société le Nickel) monitoring was setup but no seed collection has been made due to the lack of fruiting. This species would benefit from in-situ and ex-situ emergency conservation actions. It is recommended to ensure the monitoring of existing populations and to preserve viable populations within delimited areas on Tiébaghi. It is moreover advised to conduct propagation tests in order to design a replanting programme and to search actively in the Ouégoa area in order to relocate Schmid's specimen, which was found in 1969.

Bibliography


Endemia.nc 2016. Faune et Flore de Nouvelle-Calédonie.

Morat, P.; Jaffré, T.; Tronchet, F.; Munzinger, J.; Pillon, Y.; Veillon, J.-M. and Chalopin, M. 2012. Le référentiel taxonomique Florical et les caractéristiques de la flore vasculaire indigène de la Nouvelle-Calédonie [The taxonomic database « FLORICAL » and characteristics of the indigenous flora of New Caledonia]. Adansonia sér 3(34) , p.177-219.

Wulff AS, Hollingsworth PM, Ahrends A, Jaffré T, Veillon J-M, L’Huillier L, et al. 2013. Conservation Priorities in a Biodiversity Hotspot: Analysis of Narrow Endemic Plant Species in New Caledonia.

L'Huillier L.; Jaffré T. and Wulff A. 2010. Mines et Environnement en Nouvelle-Calédonie : les milieux sur substrats ultramafiques et leur restauration.

Experts


Assessor(s): Tanguy, V., Veillon, J., Amice, R., Barrière, R., Fleurot, D., Gailhbaud, P., Garnier, D., Suprin, B.

Reviewer(s): Vandrot, H.

Contributor(s): Wulff, A.

Facilitator(s): Tanguy, V., Chanfreau, S.


Geographical distribution