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Forests 2014, 5(5), 978-991; doi:10.3390/f5050978
Article

Redefining Secondary Forests in the Mexican Forest Code: Implications for Management, Restoration, and Conservation

1,2,* , 3
, 4
 and 5
1 Center for Latin American Studies, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA 2 Madre de Dios Consortium, Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios 17001, Peru 3 El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, ECOSUR, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas 29290, Mexico 4 El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, ECOSUR, Chetumal, Quintana Roo 77900, Mexico 5 Comisión de Áreas Naturales Protegidas, Reserva de la Biósfera Calakmul, Zoh-Laguna, Calakmul, Campeche 24644, Mexico
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 December 2013 / Revised: 14 May 2014 / Accepted: 15 May 2014 / Published: 21 May 2014
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Abstract

The Mexican Forest Code establishes structural reference values to differentiate between secondary and old-growth forests and requires a management plan when secondary forests become old-growth and potentially harvestable forests. The implications of this regulation for forest management, restoration, and conservation were assessed in the context of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, which is located in the Yucatan Peninsula. The basal area and stem density thresholds currently used by the legislation to differentiate old-growth from secondary forests are 4 m2/ha and 15 trees/ha (trees with a diameter at breast height of >25 cm); however, our research indicates that these values should be increased to 20 m2/ha and 100 trees/ha, respectively. Given that a management plan is required when secondary forests become old-growth forests, many landowners avoid forest-stand development by engaging slash-and-burn agriculture or cattle grazing. We present evidence that deforestation and land degradation may prevent the natural regeneration of late-successional tree species of high ecological and economic importance. Moreover, we discuss the results of this study in the light of an ongoing debate in the Yucatan Peninsula between policy makers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), landowners and researchers, regarding the modification of this regulation to redefine the concept of acahual (secondary forest) and to facilitate forest management and restoration with valuable timber tree species.
Keywords: Calakmul; chronosequence; functional groups; stakeholders; succession Calakmul; chronosequence; functional groups; stakeholders; succession
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Román-Dañobeytia, F.J.; Levy-Tacher, S.I.; Macario-Mendoza, P.; Zúñiga-Morales, J. Redefining Secondary Forests in the Mexican Forest Code: Implications for Management, Restoration, and Conservation. Forests 2014, 5, 978-991.

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