Trees and farming in the dry zone of southern Honduras II: the potential for tree diversity conservation

Abstract

The potential of the dry zone agro-ecosystem of southern Honduras to contribute to the conservation of Mesoamerican dry forest tree diversity is evaluated. Four rural communities containing eight land uses were surveyed using rapid botanical sampling resulting in the identification of 241 tree and shrub species. As a result of ordination analysis, it is concluded that the land uses are relatively similar in their species composition, particularly maize fields (milpas), fallows, pastures and woodlots, because of the predominance of natural regeneration. Therefore all land uses might contribute to local tree diversity conservation. Those land uses in which planting also contributes to diversity, home gardens (solares) and orchards, are more distinct; however the tree species found there are widespread and often exotics and thus not the usual focus of conservation measures. Across the landscape the total complement of species considered a global priority for biodiversity conservation is very low and therefore this agro-ecosystem does not represent a good place in which to implement dry forest tree diversity conservation programmes. Instead its value is likely to be in the contribution that tree diversity makes to rural livelihoods. Particular consideration is given to Swietenia humilis Zucc. (small leaved mahogany) and its status as a threatened species is questioned because of its abundance within this landscape and its wide distribution.

Citation

Gordon, J.E.; Hawthorne, W.D.; Sandoval, G.; Barrance, A.J. Trees and farming in the dry zone of southern Honduras II: the potential for tree diversity conservation. Agroforestry Systems (2003) 59 (2) 107-117.

Trees and farming in the dry zone of southern Honduras II: the potential for tree diversity conservation

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