RAINFOREST CONSERVATION

 

Rainforest habitats only cover 3% of the earth's surface but provide habitat for 50% of all land animals, and for 80% of insects. 

Semi-deciduous rainforests the most endangered forest type in Central America and is only found in the Sartenejan Region, Belize, and on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

There is a considerable amount of rainforest clearance occurring in the Sartenejan Region. Land clearance generally occurs in small parcels of land often without appreciation of its affect on land value, productive capacity, biodiversity, or sustainability.

Valuable areas of rainforest that maintain older large heritage and crown trees or threatened species are a priority in preserving rainforest.

Clearance typically occurs through the slashing of lower vegetation and cutting of trees. The area is then burnt leaving an ash covered landscape on which a mixture of crops or trees are grown.

Large amounts of soot and carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere which increases global warming.

After burning some soil fertility including potassium, phosphorus, and trace elements are available from the ash. Deeper soils also retain some humus from broken down leaves and roots.

Without fertilisers or mulch the fertility of the land for crops lasts about 2 years. In most cases the land can then only support low yielding orchards, pasture, or is left to revert to forest.

As the land is cleared and repeatedly burned, heavy rains wash away many nutrients. Fortunately alkaline soils are good for retention and availability of phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen. However, alkaline soils reduce the availability of most trace elements except which increases.

Fertiliser has a dramatic effect on production but is not generally used on small landholdings in the Sarteneja area.

For more information on soil nutrients refer to; Soil pH and Plant Nutrients. Government of Alberta, Agriculture and Rural Development.  http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex6607

Mulching is not generally used in the Sarteneja Region, however, leguminous vines and the stacking of leaves around orchard tree bases have been used to maintain or increase soil fertility.

Rainforest trees and heritage trees are a very important part of a sustainable landscape. The rainforest of the Sartenejan Region comprise a large number of tree species. These trees may be exceptional for timber, fruit, or flowers. Or they might simple be part of nature and contribute to the diversity and health of the forest.

Conservation of trees provides increased land sales, carbon storage, timber, nutrient cycling, shade, biodiversity conservation, and a livable environment.

The rainforest captures vast amounts of energy and produce the fruits, flowers and foliage that sustain much of animal life in the forests.

Their roots extend deep into the ground and recycle nutrients through their leaf, flower, and fruit drop. This not only improves agricultural production and the quality of other vegetation but prevents nutrients eventually reaching the ocean and damaging marine ecosystems.

Big trees comprise only 2 percent of rain forest’s trees, but they are crucial to the ecosystem, and store a large portion of carbon to reduce climate warming. Many birds including the national symbol the toucan rely on large trees for their nests. Many plants grow over large trees providing habitat for animals.

The price of tropical wood is increasing rapidly as forests become scarcer. The increase of value of timber in managed forest may well exceed any profit to be made from clearance, and also reduce property values. Clearing and burning of forest is also a major contributor to climate warming.

In the Sartenejan Region partial logging and clearing, with interplanting with commercial timber trees, would provide income through intermittent logging, and increase land value as the forest develops. It would also support biodiversity conservation and improve the landscape.