The value of local ecological knowledge to guide tree species selection in tropical dry forest restoration

Tobias Fremout, Claudia Elena Gutiérrez-Miranda, Siebe Briers, José Luis Marcelo-Peña, Eduardo Cueva-Ortiz, Reynaldo Linares-Palomino, María de los Ángeles La Torre-Cuadros, Janette Cristina Chang-Ruíz, Tania Libertad Villegas-Gómez, Arantza Helen Acosta-Flota, Dominiek Plouvier, Rachel Atkinson, Manuel Charcape-Ravelo, Zhofre Aguirre-Mendoza, Bart Muys, Evert Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Forest restoration projects involving active planting should prioritize species that are useful to local communities, while also considering species' threat status and resistance to local stress factors, but scientific knowledge on these criteria is scarce, especially in understudied tropical ecosystems. We hypothesized that local ecological knowledge can help to fill this gap. Through interviews with 47 local experts and 197 randomly selected households in 8 rural communities of the tropical dry forests of northwestern Peru and southern Ecuador, we identified the species perceived as most useful, most threatened, and most resistant to local stress factors. To better understand the studied local ecological knowledge, we also explored the following research questions and their implications for species selection decisions: (1) How does species' potential usefulness compare to their active use? (2) How does species' perceived threat status relate to their usefulness? (3) Does local knowledge on species' resistance to local stress factors corroborate scientific knowledge? We found large differences between the potential and active use of species and illustrate how data on both can yield useful insights. Furthermore, we found that species' perceived threat status was mainly linked to their usefulness for construction wood, and that the vast majority of local perceptions on species' threat status and stress resistance coincided with scientific knowledge. Our findings illustrate the large potential of local ecological knowledge for improving species selection strategies and thereby increasing the success of forest restoration efforts worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13347
JournalRestoration Ecology
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • active and potential use
  • ecosystem services
  • species choice
  • stress resistance
  • threat status
  • usefulness

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