Mahogany Research in Belize

Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) is the most valuable neotropical timber tree. It is now listed on CITES Appendix 2 because logging has rarely ensured its regeneration. The Programme for Belize (PfB) manages the 260,000 ha Rio Bravo Conservation and Management area for conservation, education and sustainable forestry. They still produce certified mahogany for export. In the early 1990s, PfB asked Laura Snook, a Yale F&ES graduate who had done her doctoral research on mahogany, to advise them on silviculture to sustain mahogany production. Between 1996 and 1998, she established a series of experiments to evaluate what kinds of treatments yielded the best conditions for mahogany regeneration, natural, planted, or sown. Several generations of Master’s students have spent summers there in the past, remeasuring these trees to evaluate their survival and growth, producing both Master’s theses and scientific publications from the data they have gathered.

Laura seeks two F&ES students to work with her to remeasure these experiments during the summer of 2016 and to help analyze the data and write up the results. Fellows will stay at the comfortable Hill Bank Research Station, on the extensive New River Lagoon, within the Maya Forest, home to jaguars, tapirs, toucans, pumas, howler monkeys, and much more biodiversity, as well as Mayan pyramids. Each Fellow will work with an intern from the University of Belize. The work is expected to take 6-8 weeks between May and July. If you’re interested, contact Laura Snook.