Alerce Tree



Fitzroya cupressoides - A tall, long-lived conifer endemic to the Andes mountains of southern Chile and Argentina. It is the largest tree in South America, growing 40-70m and 5m in diameter. They usually grow on young soils derived from volcanic ash and an altitude range of 1-1500m. It is a very slow growing tree, with records showing some have lived over 3600 years. Despite national and international legal protection, this tree has continued to be exploited for its timber. Human-set fires and conversion of forest to pasture land has significantly reduced its range and left extensive deforested or degraded areas.  During the summer of 1997, human-set fires destroyed 9,777 Alerce in Chile. This decline in habitat quality is on-going as illegal logging continues.