Firewood Extraction as a Catalyst of Pine-Oak Forest Degradation in the Highlands of Chiapas, Mexico
Baroody, Julianne Johnston
MetadataShow full item record
I examined the impact of firewood extraction on the degradation of an oak–pine forest in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. The study site, Lázaro Cárdenas, is a 1702 ha community–managed forest (i.e. <italic>ejido</italic>) supporting 1177 indigenous Tzotzil people. The <italic>ejido</italic> owns and actively manages the land including: <italic>milpa</italic> agriculture, grazing livestock, collecting non-timber forest products for ceremonial and medicinal uses, extracting pine lumber, and collecting firewood for cooking and heating. I collected forest vegetation data at 24 plots in the <italic>ejido</italic> spanning a range of degradation. I also used semi– structured interviews of 16 households to assess firewood use and perceptions of forest change. Firewood extraction causes forest degradation with heavily used sites showing lower biomass of oaks, lower forest cover, lower species diversity, and higher pine establishment than in sites where firewood is not extracted. Interviews documented people's preference for burning oak, and interviewees noted a decline and access to oak for firewood. The average firewood use calculated from interviews is 2.45 kg person<super>-1</super> day<super>-1</super>, while calculations from direct measurement of woodpiles suggests an average of 10.5 kg person<super>-1</super> day<super>-1</super>; a total of 831 MgC is removed each year. The results suggest that preferential selection of oak for firewood over pine is an early cause of induced pine dominance, <italic>pinarización</italic>, in the Chiapas highlands.
- Forestry