Guatemala methodology

For the purposes of the project, a tree was defined as an erect plant, perennial, with only one true trunk (Smith et al. 2004), which develops an aerial part that is partially woody and which can be differentiated into various layers: cambium, woody and bark (Frans 1994), with a diameter at breast height (DBH) of 10 cm or more and a height greater than 6-7 m. This definition avoids the inclusion of palms and bushy species.

A candidate list of tree species was first drawn up, including all species on the existing CONAP and IUCN lists. This gave a total of 224 species. All species of the genus Quercus found in Guatemala were added to the list, since this group is the subject of global evaluation by the IUCN/SSC Global Tree Specialist Group (see Box 5). This gave a total working list of 248 tree species.

An exhaustive search for synonyms of each species and their distribution in Mesoamerica, particularly in Guatemala, was then conducted (see Annex II). This was done using, principally, the Flora of Guatemala (Standley & Steyermark 19461977, Steyermark 1950) and the TROPICOS database held at Missouri Botanical Garden (mobot.mobot.org/W3T/Search/vast.html). In October 2004 a meeting of botanists and timber experts was held to revise the initial list and prioritize the remaining species based on the following criteria:

1. Endemic species

2. Species present in both Red Lists (national and IUCN)

3. All species in the genus Quercus

4. Threatened Magnolia and Dalbergia species

4. Species listed on CITES

5. Rare and little-known species

This list was then taken to Missouri Botanical Garden and revised by specialists of particular families or regions, resulting in further removal or addition of species. Through this process, a list of 156 tree species was produced. Thirty-four of these species were not included in either of the existing Red Lists for Guatemala. A further two taxa were later dropped from the list: Quercus vicentensis because it is not present in the country and Pinus strobus var. chiapensis because the project decided not to assess varieties.

All available information on the remaining 154 species within Guatemala was then gathered, including information on populations, distribution, uses and threats. All the herbaria and botanical libraries of Guatemala were visited, including the herbaria of the Faculty of Agronomy of the University of San Carlos, Guatemala (USAC), the Faculty of Biology of the USAC, the Nature Conservation Centre (CECON), CECON-USAC, and the Herbarium of the University of Valle (UVG). The herbaria and libraries of the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) and the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) in the United States of America were also visited, thanks to financial assistance from both institutions.

A bibliographical review of published literature and unpublished (grey) material on these species in Guatemala was carried out in the USAC, the UVG, various governmental institutions (CONAP, INAB), international organizations (World Bank, Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Centre (CATIE), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)) and NGOs such as Fundacion Defensores de la Naturaleza, CECON and TNC. Information about each species in Guatemala was compiled and organized under the following headings: taxonomy, habitat, distribution, management, conservation, threats, threat category and references. These species files will be incorporated into the IUCN Red List database, to ensure the information gathered is as widely available as possible.

Using this information, an assessment was made for each species against the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria version 3.1 (2001) (IUCN 2001; Annex I), and a Red List status, and criteria where appropriate, was assigned to each species for its Guatemalan populations. For endemic species these national Red List Categories and Criteria represent global evaluations, while for species that also occur outside Guatemala, a global category was assigned through a separate process (see below).

Box 5: Threat status of Quercus, Magnolia and Dalbergia species in Guatemala

The IUCN/SSC Global Tree Specialist Group is assessing the conservation status of the world's tree species for the IUCN Red List and as a contribution towards the Convention on Biological Diversity's Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. The assessments are being undertaken on both a geographical and taxonomic basis. At the time of this Guatemalan project, global assessments of all members of the family Magnoliaceae and the genus Quercus were underway, with the genus Dalbergia identified as a priority group for attention. Assessment of all conifer species is being undertaken by the IUCN/SSC Conifer Specialist Group (Farjon & Page 1999).

As part of this Guatemalan project, the national status of two species of Dalbergia, two of Magnolia and 23 of Quercus were evaluated. These included two species endemic to Guatemala, for which these evaluations were therefore global assessments: Magnolia guatemalensis (EN), a beautiful tree restricted to humid and swampy areas of the central highlands in Verapaces and Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve; and Quercus flagellifera (VU), a rare tree found in several departments in the western highlands and southeastern lowlands.

Once the information compilation and status assessments were complete, a workshop was organized in collaboration with the National Council for Protected Areas (CONAP). The workshop, which was held in Guatemala City on 5-6 September 2005, was attended by over 20 specialists from diverse institutions, both academic and governmental. The aim of the meeting was to check and confirm the proposed Guatemalan national categories and criteria for the threatened tree species, in order to ensure that the final output of the project, The Red List of Trees of Guatemala, is as accurate as possible and enjoys the full support of the national scientific and governmental community. All the global evaluations will be submitted in due course to IUCN for inclusion in the global Red List of threatened species.

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