Get access

Applying Indigenous Knowledge to the Restoration of Degraded Tropical Rain Forest Clearings Dominated by Bracken Fern

Authors

  • David Douterlungne,

    Corresponding author
    1. Departamento de Ecología y Sistemática Terrestre, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Carretera Panamericana y Periférico Sur s/n, C.P. 29290, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
      D. Douterlungne, email ddouterl@ecosur.mx
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Samuel I. Levy-Tacher,

    1. Departamento de Ecología y Sistemática Terrestre, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Carretera Panamericana y Periférico Sur s/n, C.P. 29290, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Duncan J. Golicher,

    1. Departamento de Ecología y Sistemática Terrestre, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Carretera Panamericana y Periférico Sur s/n, C.P. 29290, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Francisco Román Dañobeytia

    1. Etnobiología para la conservación A.C., Lago Urmiah 5, Colonia Pensil Norte Miguel Hidalgo, C.P. 11430 México DF, Mexico
    Search for more papers by this author

D. Douterlungne, email ddouterl@ecosur.mx

Abstract

The Lacandon Maya of Chiapas, southern Mexico, have traditionally used a long fallow rotational slash-and-burn system for maize production in small clearings within tropical forest. Although successional processes usually lead to rapid restoration of abandoned fields, the invasive fern, Pteridium aquilinium (commonly known as Bracken), can block natural succession. The Lacandon are aware of this and use the fast-growing tree Balsa (Ochroma pyramidale) to accelerate succession toward mature forest. We carried out a 12-month-long experiment in a Bracken-infested area to test the effectiveness of the Lacandon’s low-input restoration techniques. We found that we could successfully establish Balsa in plots dominated by Bracken using the Lacandon methodology. Their technique involves broadcasting large numbers of small seeds and applying traditional weeding techniques. After 12 months’ growth, Balsa reached a top height of over 6 m and basal areas of 4.1 (±0.3) m2/ha. We contrasted this low-cost traditional fallow management with more costly techniques involving transplanting Balsa seedlings and sowing directly in the experimental area. The results validated the effectiveness of the Lacandon method for directing succession and confirmed the general potential of Balsa as a facilitator in the restoration of degraded tropical forest areas.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary