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Importance of preserving and maintaining the forests of Palo Santo, Study on carbon storage in the tropical dry forest

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Caring for dry forest ecosystems has become our priority. The Palo Santo, this sacred wood that is a spiritual instrument of peace and harmony for our lives. It deserves care in its natural ecosystem from its origin until its natural death. The reality is that dry forests have long been undervalued because their life functions are not fully understood. These spaces are often deforested, where aggressive agriculture is carried out with chemicals and often occupied by settlements without environmental control measures.

It is important to know how dry forests work to protect Palo Santo, and not only that plant, but also each of the species that live in symbiosis and that somehow maintain a balance in these fragile ecosystems and little valued. Dry forests have been studied in less quantity compared to humid forests. Since they are not so attractive, and many times it has been believed that they do not contribute much compared to humid forests.

But at present, answering many questions about dry forests is complex, since the investigations have been few and have not gone very deep. For this reason, we are on our way together with the universities to develop studies and learn how these living spaces typical of Central America and South America converge.


Studying the behavior of dry forests for their preservation is vital. and the objective of the research was to determine the carbon stored in the living aerial biomass and in the soil in an area of ​​dry forest in the Joa parish of the Jipijapa canton in Ecuador, six kilometers west of the city of Jipijapa, in the province from Manabí, on the central Ecuadorian coast. With altitudes ranging from 220 to 320 meters above sea level; average temperatures of 24 oC and 1.28 mm of precipitation. A 50-hectare area was taken as the study area, which has a Comprehensive Management Plan and a Technical Inspection Report in the Forest Area of ​​the Joá Commune of the Jipijapa Canton, as prerequisites to the declaration of “Protective Forest and Vegetation ”.


24 permanent circular sampling plots of 500 m2 each were used, randomly arranged on the ground under study (50 ha) considering 3 altitudinal floors (200 to 250 masl; 251 to 300 masl andandgt; 300 masl). The sampling intensity was established at ± 20% of the average carbon at a confidence level of 95%. This fact indicates, for example, that in 95% of the situations in which a carbon value of 100 Mg C ha-1 is identified, the real amount will be between 80 and 120 Mg C ha-1.

Of the five carbon compartments that can be measured in a forest (live aerial biomass, underground biomass, debris or dead wood, litter, soil organic matter), the carbon stock in living aerial biomass and organic matter was determined. from the ground, because they are the compartments that store the most carbon in a forest.

An indirect method was used to measure carbon stored in aerial biomass, considering its low cost, time and resources, compared to destructive methods. In this way, the allometric equation for mixed dry forests proposed by Chave et al (2005) was used, which requires measuring variables in the trees within the plots. Trees greater than 5 cm in diameter are measured. The reason why trees larger than 5 cm in diameter are selected is because they have already passed the young-adult process, informative data on height, visible characteristics are obtained, the species is specified, and a small plate is left that it remains for the record that this tree has been studied.

To obtain data on carbon stored in the soil, a sample per plot was taken at different depths (0-10, 10-20 and 20-30 cm) to later determine apparent density by the cylinder method (Anderson and Ingram 1993 ) and organic carbon by the Walkley-Black method (Walkley and Black 1934). These soil samples were taken using a 40 x 40 x 40 cm pit in the center of each plot.


The analysis allowed to establish, that considering the altitudinal floors, there are no statistical differences for the variable carbon stored in soils (p = 0.40), nor for the carbon stored in aerial biomass (p = 0.93) of the “El Artesan Protective Forest and Vegetation - EcuadorianHands ”in Joa, Jipijapa.

Carbon stored in living aerial biomass, carbon in soils and the total carbon stored in each altitudinal floor. In this sense, it was possible to establish that the study area stores between 105.02 and 112.32 Mg C ha-1, with an average of 109.42 Mg ha-1, with carbon in soils being the compartment with the greatest contribution to total storage (64.89%) .

The analysis for woody vegetation and altitudinal floors, show a representativeness of 100%. According to this, the three altitudinal floors have in common the species M. calabura, B. graveolens, Pouteria sp, C. trischistandra and C. lutea; considering the length of the vectors, the species with the greatest variability were: C. glabrata, C. rivinifolius, J. curcas and C. sclerophylla. In the same way, it can be said that C. glabrata in this area only occurs between 200 to 250 meters above sea level; J. curcas and C. sclerophylla, highly correlated species, only occur at altitudes of 251 to 300 meters above sea level; and Z. thyrsiflora is more abundant at altitudes greater than 300 meters above sea level with few representatives in the other altitudinal floors.

Carbon storage in the study area, being possible to observe that C. trischistandra stores around 80% of the carbon in the area and the other 20% is represented mainly by E. ruizii, B. graveolens, C. vitifoliu and E. velutina and others to a lesser extent. In this same sense, the family whose individuals store the most carbon is Malvaceae, which includes two representatives (C. trischistandra and E. ruizii); followed by Fabaceae, which is represented by six species with wood densities between 0.17 and 0.95 g / cm3.

Regarding the carbon stored in soils, the analyzes show that there are no statistical differences between the amounts stored in the different altitudinal floors. Generally speaking, carbon decreases with depth. However, in the lowest altitudinal floor (200 to 250 masl), the behavior is somewhat different, having higher carbon concentrations at 20 cm depth.

The results show that altitude is not a factor that influences carbon storage in live aerial biomass and in soils. 87.9% of the carbon stored in living aerial biomass is contained in three species: C. trischistandra, E. ruizii, B. graveolens. The carbon stock of the Joa forest, Jipijapa is between 105.02 and 112.32 Mg C ha-1, therefore, it is considered that this type of forest represents an option to counteract the increase in atmospheric CO2, this being an important justification for its conservation, even more so when the forest is under dynamic growth processes.


The carbon content in live aerial biomass and soils of the “El Artesan - EcuadorianHands Forest and Protective Vegetation” in Joa, Jipijapa, is not influenced by the altitudinal gradient.

The composition and distribution of the species in the study area is of utmost importance when making estimates of carbon stored in forest ecosystems.

87.9% of the carbon stored in living aerial biomass is contained in three species: C. trischistandra, E. ruizii, B. graveolens.

The Joa forest, Jipijapa can store between 105.02 and 112.32 Mg C ha-1, therefore, it is considered that this type of forest represents an option to counteract the increase in atmospheric CO2, this being an important justification for its conservation, more even when the forest is under dynamic growth processes.

These studies maintain the possibility of fighting to keep dry forests intact, taking care of these ecosystems so necessary for human life. These forests, which apparently do not seem to exert an influence on life, are refuges for fauna and flora that help to counteract the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. Thus preventing the advance of climate change.

Original article published in: Ecosistemas Scientific journal of ecology and environment.


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