Introduction / Background / Justification
The oaks or oaks (Quercus: Fagaceae) in Guatemala, make up one of the most important elements of the structure of the forests. They are associated with three of the strategic ecosystems for the country, and that together cover more than 50% of the national territory. In addition to their ecological importance, these are also relevant from a cultural perspective, given the ecosystem services they provide to the population. However, knowledge of this group was incipient before 2015.
Update the knowledge of oaks for Guatemala, considering at the same time the cultural perspective from the valuation of this group by the original peoples.
24 field trips were carried out, establishing 136 plots of vegetation in 15 of the 22 departments of Guatemala (2015-2019), complementing the information with collections in the routes and herbariums. The plots were selected considering gaps in information, accessibility, security, state of conservation and the authorization of the owners. In 14 they carried out participatory workshops in communities near the collection sites, with the aim of documenting the knowledge, use and valuation of oak forests. All data were analyzed descriptively.
For Guatemala, 33 species have been documented, 20 sect. Lobatae and 13 sect. Quercus, with more than 1,500 records deposited in national herbaria, doubling the number of species registered in most departments. Regarding the cultural perspective, it has been recorded that oak forests are a primary source of firewood and charcoal, likewise, they associate these forests as an important source of other services such as oxygen, water, construction materials, shelter for animals, medicine and edible mushrooms. Regarding conservation data, 61% of the records are currently located in degraded forests, with mixed pine-oak forests showing the greatest anthropic pressure.
This project has made it possible to visualize Quercus as a priority group in landscape conservation and restoration strategies. In recent years, workshops on the identification of these species have been given to field technicians, who are responsible for dictating plans for the management and use of forests in Guatemala. Although there is still work to be done, the implementation of forest nurseries is currently being encouraged through public-private partnerships to strengthen the conservation of this group.
Oaks, Ecosystem, Mesoamerican region, Traditional knowledge, threatened species