A Critical Evaluation of Agroforestry Models as Strategies for Pole Wood Production in Central Quintana Roo, Mexico

EPA Grant Number: MA916361
Title: A Critical Evaluation of Agroforestry Models as Strategies for Pole Wood Production in Central Quintana Roo, Mexico
Investigators: Racelis, Alexis E.
Institution: University of California - Santa Cruz
EPA Project Officer: Zambrana, Jose
Project Period: January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2006
Project Amount: $106,262
RFA: GRO Fellowships for Graduate Environmental Study (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships


The tropical forests of Central Quintana Roo, Mexico, characterized by hundreds of years of settlement by Mayan farmers, have been subject to pressures from natural disasters and human manipulation. Communities of Mayans still practice slash and burn agriculture and forest extraction for bush meat, medicinal plants, and materials, such as palms and pole wood for building homes. The historic exploitation of tropical trees for pole wood, locally called palizada, recently has increased dramatically in response to an emerging market for use in construction of tourist huts and buildings in the expanding tourism sector of Cancun-Tulum corridor and will continue to escalate to meet the demands resulting from recently approved plans for the mass development of more “natural-based” tourism of the coastal area north of Belize. Typically, palizada are extracted from forested areas once they reach a diameter at breast height (dbh) ranging from 5 to 35 cm. Intense selective harvest of palizada species from forest areas may have serious, additive ecological consequences by affecting the trajectory of forest succession and possibly changing future community composition. My research objective is to obtain the background information needed on what currently is known about palizada, its harvest, and implications for management to effectively estimate the changes to forest structure caused by the intense selective harvest of palizada species.


I will assess past, current, and future harvest rates of palizada species from natural forests. I will collect average demographic patterns of palizada species to estimate the growth rates and explore the possible effects of various harvesting regimes using population modeling methods. I also will test alternative agroforestry models for palizada production and identify the economic and ecological tradeoffs of these different models.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, Mexico, pole wood, palizada, tropical trees, tree harvesting, tourism, forest management, agroforestry., RFA, Scientific Discipline, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, Geographic Area, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Restoration, Resources Management, Forestry, Monitoring/Modeling, Environmental Monitoring, Ecology and Ecosystems, Agronomy, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, International, agroforestry, agroforestry models, ecology, forest, Quintana Roo, Mexico, barriers, Mayan farmers, forest ecosystem, pole wood production, agricultural ecosystems, conservation, restoration strategies, species interactions, vegetation, ecological recovery, environmental rehabilitation

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2004
  • 2005
  • Final