Silvicultural contributions to the reforestation with native species in the tropical mountain rainforest region of South Ecuador
Doctoral Thesis - Nikolay Aguirre Mendoza, 2007
Ecuador is considered to be one of the global ´hotspots´ of biodiversity (Brummitt & Lughadha 2003). Despite this fact Ecuador is facing the highest deforestation rate (1.7 %) in South America (FAO 2006a). Between 1990 and 2005 the extent of forest and other wooded land in Ecuador decreased from 15 to 12.3 million hectares (FAO 2006a). The main reason for deforestation in Ecuador is the exploitation of forests and its conversion into agricultural land especially into pastures for cattle farming (Wunder 2000). For the San Francisco Valley, the area under investigation in this study, Paulsch et al. (2001) described the land-use dynamic which is typical for the montane Andean region:
The first step is the exploitation of the primeval forests. Following the exploitation small scale farmers transform the exploited forests into pastures for cattle ranching. In order to improve the productivity of the pastures they plant non-native grasses, especially Setaria sphacelata and Melinis minutiflora. As a result of the regular burning of the pastures by the farmers bracken fern (Pteridium arachnoideum) is invading the areas more and more. After several years the decreasing productivity of the sites forces the farmers to abandon the land and to convert a new patch of forest into pastures (see also Hartig & Beck 2003).
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