Native to bog systems in Central Europe where the main threats are drainage and competition from Picea abies
Occurs in Central Europe in : Austria; Czech Republic; France, Germany; Italy, Poland and Switzerland.
This is a similar distribution to the species on major mountain ranges of Central Europe which include the Pyrenees, the Auvergne Mountains, the Alps, Erzgebirge, Böhmerwald, Sudeten and northwest Carpathians.
Habitat and Ecology
This subspecies is almost exclusively limited to Sphagnum peat bogs at middle elevations in the mountains of central Europe, in Poland down to 180m above sea-level. In the central parts of these bogs it is usually a low shrub with layering stems, but at the edges in a transition zone to more mineral soil it has to compete with other trees, e.g. Picea abies, and becomes a small, erect and single-stemmed tree. Soils are extremely acid, moist and peaty. When the bog becomes drier, dwarf shrubs, mostly Ericaceae, often dominate the undergrowth and the pines grow taller.
Although widespread in Central Europe, each locality is small, restricted to usually small upland peat bogs which are small lakes or ponds filled in with sphagnum peat since the last Ice Age. Consequently, the population is severely fragmented and the area of occupancy is small (76km2), here estimated on a fairly good sampling of localities across the range and with a grid width of 2km. There is continuous decline as many of these bogs are not or inadequately protected against draining and afforestation. This taxon therefore is assessed as Endangered under the B2 criterion.
In the last 100 years many of the upland bogs have been drained, destroyed by peat cutting, or drastically altered by forestry, mainly plantations with Picea abies. This subspecies is unable to compete with Picea abies or other trees that will invade when the bog is drained. As a result, it has declined or even disappeared from many bogs in Germany and elsewhere (Schmidt, 2011). It does not appear as threatened on the German Red List, but in all three Lands in which it occurs naturally (Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Sachsen) it is listed as threatened, while it has become extinct in Thüringen. The situation in Poland is also of concern; in one reserve an attempt at re-introduction has been undertaken (Schmidt, 2011).
Several bogs in which this subspecies occurs are protected in reserves, but this will not guarantee safety in all cases because external factors such as lowering of groundwater tables, altering of stream courses and afforestation in the area can all negatively impact the bogs. Restoration attempts are known from places in Germany and Poland, including re-introduction in the Wegliniec Reserve in Poland, the northern-most natural occurrence of this subspecies. Adequate protection including the water regime in and around bogs is needed in many places where subpopulations remain.