In order to assess traditional ecological knowledge of the Maya people in southeastern Mexico, we interviewed local people in Quintana Roo and estimated a number of vegetation variables in two different types of forest which are currently locally exploited, namely Monte alto (medium statured forest) and Sakal che' (low forest). We employed the Use Value index for each plant species (UVs) to quantify the importance of each plant for each inhabitant. The results showed that this Maya community classify the different forest types by species associations and size, and according to soil appearance. A total of nine categories of use were defined for three plant forms (tree, palm and vine). Manilkara zapota (zapote), Thrinax radiata (chiit) and Macfadyena uncata (bilin kok) showed the highest use values for each plant form. The most common uses were construction (35.5%), medicine (19.0%), craft (17.9%) and edibility (10.3%). There was a weak relationship between the cultural importance of plant species, expressed by the UVs, and their availability in the medium statured forest and the medium statured-low forest transition expressed by the Importance Value index (IVI). The medium statured forest was the most used forest type, as it provides many species for construction due to external demands rather than to local needs.
- Quantitative ethnobotany
- Tropical forest