New and Notable on www.eco-index.org: Harvesting Epiphytic Bromeliads: An Opportunity for Cloud Forest Conservation

Managing NGO(s), country: Instituto de Ecología, A.C., México; Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM); Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales (IIS-UNAM).

Project director(s): Tarin Toledo Aceves

Summary: Tropical montane cloud forests (TMCFs) are a vital source of freshwater for local and downstream communities in the tropics. TMCFs are home to an immense amount of biodiversity, yet they are seriously threatened by deforestation. Their recovery and maintenance relies upon appropriate management and the involvement of communities living within TMCF areas. Epiphytes are a characteristic component of TMCF. Large numbers of epiphytic bromeliads are extracted from TMCFs in southern Mexico for the construction of floral arches and for trade in local markets, with no form of control to sustainably manage their populations. In addition to reduction and alteration of habitat, the over-extraction of epiphytes has a deleterious effect on the remnant populations. Through this project, researchers aim to develop a management plan, in partnership with the local communities, for the sustainable harvesting of epiphytic bromeliads from TMCF fragments within a watershed in Veracruz, Mexico.

Annual budget and donors: $22,800 from the Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y el Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO), Mexico; Rainforest Alliance, Regional.

Principle Accomplishments: Gave talks to describe the importance of TMCFs and promote appropriate management of epiphytic bromeliads; conducted interviews to compile information about local knowledge of the ecology, uses, and market for bromeliads, and evaluated the level of interest in legal management practices for bromeliads; completed participative inventories with members of families that own TMCF fragments in order to promote awareness of the services they provide, and to give forest owners and users conceptual and practical tools for the sustainable management of bromeliads; and organized a group of 12 local students who will be responsible for completing field inventories and plant germination and propagation activities.

Anticipated Accomplishments: Complete participative inventories of two TMCF fragments; build two nurseries for the propagation of epiphytic bromeliads, and an “epiphytarium” to display epiphytes in conjunction with initiatives to promote ecotourism in the area; enhance local awareness raising efforts; strengthen the establishment of rules for the management and protection of epiphytes in TMCF fragments; and create field guides for the identification of epiphytic bromeliads to support field data collection and ecotourism.

Contacts: Tarin Toledo Aceves, Circuito Mario de la Cueva s/n, Ciudad de la Investigación en Humanidades, Ciudad Universitaria Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. C. P. 04510, Coyoacán, México, D. F. Tel: +52-55/5622-7400, ext. 279. tarintoledo@gmail.com.

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