The extent, distribution, and fragmentation of vanishing montane cloud forest in the Highlands of Chiapas, Mexico

This source preferred by Duncan Golicher

Authors: Cayuela, L., Golicher, D. and Rey-Benayas, J.M.

Journal: Biotrópica

Volume: 38

Pages: 544-554

DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2006.00160.x

Montane cloud forest (MCF) has high levels of species diversity, contributes positively to the catchment water yield, and is a globally threatened habitat type. The shortage of reliable data regarding the area currently occupied by MCF remains an obstacle to operational conservation planning in Mexico. This paper assesses how much MCF remains in the central Highlands of Chiapas (Mexico) and how fragmented it is in relation to other forest cover. We estimated that the area covered by MCF was between 3700–5250 ha. This estimate contrasted with the approximately 40,000 ha reported for the same region by the Mexican National Forestry inventory in 2000. MCF was highly scattered and fragmented within a matrix of other tropical montane forest types. Other forest types may be partially buffering the remaining MCF habitats, however, mitigating their disturbance and enhancing their connectivity. We conclude that mechanisms should be sought to promote the protection of core areas containing MCF fragments in agreement with communal and private landowners and to conserve the ecological functions of surrounding buffer zones. Such a conservation strategy would match the natural configuration of these endangered habitats.

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Authors: Cayuela, L., Golicher, D.J. and Rey-Benayas, J.M.

Journal: Biotropica

Volume: 38

Issue: 4

Pages: 544-554

eISSN: 1744-7429

ISSN: 0006-3606

DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2006.00160.x

Montane cloud forest (MCF) has high levels of species diversity, contributes positively to the catchment water yield, and is a globally threatened habitat type. The shortage of reliable data regarding the area currently occupied by MCF remains an obstacle to operational conservation planning in Mexico. This paper assesses how much MCF remains in the central Highlands of Chiapas (Mexico) and how fragmented it is in relation to other forest cover. We estimated that the area covered by MCF was between 3700-5250 ha. This estimate contrasted with the approximately 40,000 ha reported for the same region by the Mexican National Forestry inventory in 2000. MCF was highly scattered and fragmented within a matrix of other tropical montane forest types. Other forest types may be partially buffering the remaining MCF habitats, however, mitigating their disturbance and enhancing their connectivity. We conclude that mechanisms should be sought to promote the protection of core areas containing MCF fragments in agreement with communal and private landowners and to conserve the ecological functions of surrounding buffer zones. Such a conservation strategy would match the natural configuration of these endangered habitats. © 2006 The Author(s).

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