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Extinction Watch: Very few candles in the wind

Scientific classification: Araucaria angustifolia

The Brazilian pine, which is also known as the candelabra tree, is a critically endangered spe- cies in the conifer genus Araucaria. Although common names refer to the species as a “pine”, it actually does not belong in the genus Pinus.

Native to southern Brazil, the species has lost 97% of its habitat to logging, agriculture and silviculture. A total of 38 tree species on Brazil’s official list of Flora Species Threatened with Extinction were legally traded between 2012 and 2016, according to a recently published study conducted by scientists at the Federal Fluminense University and the Botanical Garden Research Institute of Rio de Janeiro.

Araucaria angustifolia was the first on the traded list of threatened species, representing 5.2% of the total volume of timber traded over the four-year research period. The Brazilian pine is an evergreen tree that grows up to 40 metre in height and one metre in diameter. It is dioecious, with the male and female cones on separate trees.

As the tree matures, the lower branches drop off, leaving a long, bare trunk with a crown of upturned branches tufted at the ends. Brazilian pine, a durable, honey-coloured wood, lends itself well to construction projects and has a superior ability to hold screws. In the 1940s, wood from Brazil’s araucarias was one of the main timbers used to rebuild Europe after World War II, and around 100 million trees were felled between 1930 and 1990. Now, just 3 to 5% of the forest’s original extent remains.


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