Protecting Mesoamerican Forests

Mesoamerica is home to almost 5,000 endemic plants and 8 per cent of the world’s biodiversity, but how well are protected areas safeguarding the region’s different forest types?

Data resources used via GBIF : 742,000 occurrences
Moist forest in Nicaragua by Elena licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Moist forest in Nicaragua by Elena licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Mesoamerica is home to almost 5,000 endemic plants and 8 per cent of the world’s biodiversity, but how well are protected areas safeguarding the region’s different forest types? Using species distribution models for 1,224 native tree species in Mesoamerica using 742,000 GBIF-mediated occurrences, this study found that about a quarter of Mesoamerican forest types are represented in protected areas, but only 5 per cent of its imperiled dry forests. They identified several novel high-value forest conservation areas (FCAs) that have regrettably little overlap with existing protected areas—in fact, more than half of the identified FCAs fall outside protected areas, particularly in Mexico’s dry and coniferous forests and Panama’s moist forest. Researchers hope the study’s findings can guide expansion of the network of Mesoamerican protected areas.

Citations

de Albuquerque, F. S., Benito, B., Beier, P., Assunção-Albuquerque, M. J., & Cayuela, L. (2015). Supporting underrepresented forests in Mesoamerica. Natureza & Conservação, 13(2), 152–158. doi:10.1016/j.ncon.2015.02.001

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