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The Arbolitos Project

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Based on a sustainable model of forest management, we seek to establish an effective and replicable climate change mitigation mechanism by restoring and reconverting rural forest-vocation lands in the municipality of Zacatlan, Puebla, guaranteeing a balance between caring for the ecosystem qualities of the forest and the use of forest products.

 

To achieve this, we follow inclusion and empowerment schemes for local communities to participate in the project, or to promote their own projects and, together, to recover the region's forests and generate livelihoods that are harmonious with the environment.

 

In addition, we will have open spaces for scientific research that generates knowledge to provide feedback and strengthen the forest management model, and allow its replication in other geographic, climatic and social contexts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specifically, we are looking for the following:

1. To drive an effective and replicable climate change mitigation mechanism based on sustainable forest management, that allows to recover, conserve and enlarge Mexican forests.

2. To articulate a process of restoration and reconversion of rural lands for forestry purposes, using as a general criterion the emergence, conservation and strengthening of mycorrhizal networks.​

3. To develop and implement a model for the sustainable use of forest products integrated with the restoration and conservation of its ecosystems.

4. To establish a financing model from diverse sources, taking advantage of the products and services generated by the forest: timber products, non-timber products, harmonious tourism of natural experiences, environmental services, and CO2 capture.

5. To promote scientific research and dissemination of knowledge related to forest management and the existence and effects of mycorrhizal networks on the health and growth of forests with active monitoring of the populations of flora, fauna and funga, as well as on the social and environmental resources of the region.

6. To generate a living space for environmental education and culture, academic exchange and professionalization, as well as producing awareness and integration of other agents that affect forest management, such as local communities (ejidos), landowners and local authorities.

7. To build capacities in local communities, including ejidatarios, women and youth in the region who can support the different components of the project such as its sustainable management, production and use, and the generation and dissemination of knowledge.

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Image taken from Beiler et al (2009), Architecture of the wood-wide web: Rhizopogon spp. genets link multiple Douglas-fir cohorts. New Phytologist, volume 185, issue 2, pages 543-553

Diagram of a mycorrhizal network

The green figures are Douglas fir trees and the lines indicate the relationships between fir roots and mycorrhizal fungi.

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Project Features

The project's region has a temperate subhumid climate with an average annual temperature of between 53 and 64ºF (12 and 18°C). The temperature of the coldest month fluctuates between 27 and 64ºF (-3 and 18°C) and that of the hottest month rises up to 80ºF (27°C). The total annual precipitation ranges from 28 to 59 in (700 to 1500 mm), with summer rains with a P/T index greater than 55 and a percentage of winter rain from 5 to 10% of the annual total. It is part of the hydrological region 27 (Tuxpan-Nautla River with 8,375 square miles -21,692 km2-) and basin B (Tecolutla River with 3,017 square miles -7,813 km2-).

 

The wild fauna is composed of mammals such as the shrew, mouse, gopher, tree squirrel, cacomistle, badger, raccoon, wild cat and armadillo; by reptiles such as the lizard and the rattlesnake, as well as birds such as the yellow-headed parrot, sparrow, hummingbird, dwarf hummingbird, calandria, chipping sparrow, hook-billed, vireo, climbing woodpecker, mountain nuthatch, empidonax, mockingbird, and spotted cuitlacoche.

The forest vegetation of the region is classified into three ecosystems: temperate-cold, tropical and semi-arid. The predominant ecosystem of the area of ​​interest is temperate-cold and the types of vegetation are fir, pine, pine-oak, oak-pine, juniper and other conifers, as well as oak forest.

 

Based on the biotic and abiotic characteristics, the restoration and reconversion of rural lands to forest, the project will consider, in the first place, the native species that are established naturally so as not to alter the continuity of the fauna that feeds in this zone.

 

Likewise, the following species will be considered:

Plant species for conservation and restoration use:

  • Mexican hawthorn (Tejocote, crataegus pubecens): Tree that generates shelter in its crown and provides food for some species of birds and small mammals.

  • Common rush (Zacaton or Juncus effusus L.): Not very tall scrub considered for wildlife protection, in addition to providing protection to the soil from water and wind erosion, and favoring reforestation by functioning as a nursing plant.

  • Broom (Bacharis sp): Tall shrub whose main function is to protect wildlife. Due to its size, it is ideal for bird nests in its branches, as well as to protect larger land animals, in addition to its protective function for forest species against inclement weather.

  • Lang Oak (Encino, quercuss sp): Large tree species, mostly resistant to poor lands, used for soil restoration, protection of fauna and, if required, for the use of wood.

  • Ailite (Alnus acuminata): Large shrub that offers protection to wildlife and recovery of poor soils.

 

Plant species for timber use:

  • Patula pine (Pinus patula): Native species that has a rapid growth, which makes it a candidate for reforestation, as well as being one of the most profitable species in the northern highlands region of the state of Puebla.

  • Ayacahuite pine (Pinus ayacahuite): Species considered for soil restoration in addition to being used for timber harvest in adulthood.

  • White cedar (Cupresus lindleyi): Tree whose wood is not of abundant used but possessing large production potential.

 

Plant species for non-timber use:

  • Montezuma pine (Ocote, pinus leiophyla or Pinus montezumae): This species can be used for timber and non-timber production, extracting its resin, in addition to being considered native to the area.

  • Pinus teocote (Ocote negro, pinus teocote): Species considered for non-timber production in addition to restoring poorly vegetated soils and to support habitat conservation.

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What is a mycorrhizal network?

A mycorrhizal network is the result of the symbiotic relationship that forms between the roots of plants and certain fungi in the soil. This relationship allows, under certain conditions, a free flow of nutrients towards the host plants and between the roots of the interconnected plants, which suggests that the mycorrhiza establishes a great bond under the soil between plants that, at first glance, could appear distant and without any relationship.1

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1 Camargo-Ricalde et al. (2012). Micorrizas: una gran unión debajo del suelo, Revista Digital Universitaria. 1 de julio de 2012, Vol. 13, No.7. Disponible en: http://www.revista.unam.mx/vol.13/num7/art72/index.html

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