The Structure and Composition of a Tropical Dry Forest Landscape After Land Clearance; Azuero Peninsula, Panama
This article describes natural regeneration that has occured in five different habitat types in the Azuero Peninsula of Panama. These habitat types include active pasture, 2-yr abandoned pasture, 5-yr abandoned pasture, forest riparian zones, and a secondary forest fragment. This region is characterized by agricultural and cattle ranching landcapes in areas that previously were tropical dry forest (1700 mm rainfall per year) until the mid-20th century and have recently been undergoing rapid turnover in land ownership.
Research Goals & Methods
For each of the five habitat types, trees were inventoried and the 20 most common species were monitored for their phenology. Additionally, semi-structured interviews were conducted with farmers and landowners in the area in order to determine the common uses of trees in farms and rationale for keeping trees on the landscape. Species were assigned importance values based on indicies related to the relative density, relative frequency, and relative basal area.
Conclusions & Takeaways
The species with the highest importance values were Calycophyllum candidissimum and Tabebuia rosea for secondary forest, Guazuma ulmifolia and Hura crepitans for riparian forest, Guazuma ulmifolia and Cordia alliodora for active pasture, and Guazuma ulmifolia for the abandoned pasture. Based on the interviews, 76% of the trees found in the pasture inventories had uses recognized by local farmers, including shade for cattle (most important), timber value, live fence posts, fodder, edible fruit, medicine, and fish poison. The authors suggest that recently abandoned pastures, dominated mostly by Guazuma ulmifolia, will likely require more intensive restoration to accelerate forest succession, including techniques such as enrichment planting with fruit trees, direct seeding, and planting native species.
The Structure and Composition of a Tropical Dry Forest Landscape After Land Clearance$\mathsemicolon$ Azuero Peninsula, Panama. Journal of Sustainable Forestry. 2011;30:756–774. doi:10.1080/10549811.2011.571589..
- Biology Department, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA
- Independent Evaluation Group, The World Bank, Washington, DC, USA
- Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
- Equator, LLC, New York, New York, USA
- Native Species Reforestation Project (PRORENA), Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Ancon, Panama