Ecology and management of tropical oak forest in Oaxaca, Mexico to supply sustainable firewood for the artisanal mezcal industry
Mexico is a center of oak diversity, yet little is known about the ecology and management of the majority of species. Many of the forests containing oak in Mexico—including tropical dry forests, sub-tropical oak forest, and mixed oak-pine forests—are also among the most threatened and least studied ecosystems in the world, yet also supply key goods and services to local communities (Bonfil, 2006; Rzedowski, 1981a; Trejo and Dirzo, 2000). Oak is especially harvested for firewood because of its good combustion characteristics, yet this product is often overlooked in research focused on forest management (Aguilar et al., 2012). This study began investigating growth of four important firewood species in the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca: Quercus laurina, Q. rugosa, Q. acutifolia, and Q. leibmanni. Using steel dendrometer bands, we measure diameter growth for the first time for these species in order to calculate estimates of annual sustainable volume yields. These bands are currently being measured every month for the next two years in order to analyze the seasonality of growth as evidence for the annual nature of tree growth rings in these species.