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Nontimber Forest Product Plantations in the Understory of a Tropical Rain Forest in Southeast MexicoEPA Grant Number: U916077
Title: Nontimber Forest Product Plantations in the Understory of a Tropical Rain Forest in Southeast Mexico
Investigators: Trauernicht, Parker C.
Institution: University of Hawaii at Honolulu
EPA Project Officer: Just, Theodore J.
Project Period: January 1, 2002 through January 1, 2004
Project Amount: $64,000
RFA: Minority Academic Institutions (MAI) Fellowships for Graduate Environmental Study (2002) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Environmental Science and Engineering
The objectives of this research project are to: (1) describe the management practices involved in plantation establishment; and (2) evaluate the ecological effects of plantation management through quantitative comparisons between plantations and unmanaged areas of forest. The first component of this study examines the changes in community composition, including forest structure, vegetative cover, and floristic diversity. The second component considers the potential effects of plantation establishment on forest regeneration by examining changes in the patterns of light availability and the composition of seedling recruitment. In addition, I study the implications of plantation management for the maintenance of ecological processes and the conservation of species diversity.
The planting of nontimber forest product (NTFP) crops in the understory of tropical forests is being widely promoted throughout southern Mexico and parts of Central America to conserve forested lands and meet the economic needs of rural communities. Although many studies of NTFP management have focused on the impacts of harvesting on wild populations, the ecological effects of understory plantations of NTFPs have not yet been addressed. I conducted a case study of plantations of the palm Chamaedorea hooperiana Hodel planted in the understory of primary tropical rain forest in the Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve in southeastern Mexico.