Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Conservation Biology Field Course, Mexico, Days 4-7

The next installment of the field course covers our trip south to Chetumal and our rainforest survey activities. Read more for photos and an idea of what we did.

We said goodbye to the staff, trees and animals at Dr Alfredo Barrera Botanical Garden in Puerto Morelos and began our long journey to the state capital, Chetumal. Along the way, we stopped for a few hours at the Mayan ruins in Tulum.

A White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica) among the ruins
at Tulum. (Photo: Wai Yi)

Hotel Ucum in Chetumal. (Photo: Jamie Sykes)

The first survey day took us to the village of La Ceiba and the INIFAP forest beyond. The forest had been damaged by a hurricane in October 2012, and our usual landmark trees to guide us to our annual forest survey area were not so clear.

Walking past the eyelash pit vipers to get to the survey site!
(Photo: Alex Richardson)

Mairi in Paul's "recovery hammock".
(Photo: Alex Richardson)
This forest shows evidence of two hurricanes
passing by in the last six years. (Photo: Sarah Lippett)

We visited the village of Tres Garantías for the second survey day. It took quite a while to get there along a very straight, potholed road. When we arrived, we were given a talk by the people who manage the village's communal forests about their sustainable management plan. We were also shown how chewing gum is extracted from the chicle tree (Manilkara zapota) by Alfredo, a real-life chiclero.

Our bus on the road through the Tres Garantías forest.
(Photo: Paul Ramsay)
The forest trail. (Photo: Paul Ramsay)
Explaining the rotational and selective felling system used
in the communal forest of Tres Garantías.
(Photo: Paul Ramsay)

A demonstration of how the chicle
(Manilkara zapota) sap is tapped.
(Photo: Paul Ramsay)
Real chewing gum is made from the sap of
this tree. A tree is visited once every
15 years or so. (Photo: Paul Ramsay)

At the base of the tree, a bag collects the sap
for collection later. The Tres Garantías chicleros
provide gum for a small company in Chetumal
which sells organic chewing gum to Waitrose
in the UK. (Photo: Paul Ramsay)

Alfredo the chiclero. (Photo: Paul Ramsay)

 With the explanations and demonstrations over, we began our survey work in the forest...
Measuring trunk diameter is a vital part of
assessing forest dynamics and the value of
its timber. (Photo: Paul Ramsay)

It rains in the rainforest. Keeping valuable
notes dry is essential. (Photo: Paul Ramsay)

One of the survey teams. (Photo: Paul Ramsay)
Day 7 was spent back at the hotel in Chetumal, analyzing the results of the previous days' work and preparing for an evaluation of that work in the late afternoon.

Analyzing the forest survey data at the Hotel Ucum, Chetumal.
(Photo: Alex Richardson)

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