Tree cover on cattle farms in the southeast region of Guatemala
Solís Flores, Jennifer U.
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Livestock activity is often related to deforestation and loss of natural resources such as soil and water quality and quantity. The strategies that come from this perception seek for the minimization of livestock effect into the environment. Silvopastoral systems are being used as an alternative to increase tree cover on livestock farms, mitigate the effects of climate change, and make farmers more resilient to these. This research is focused on the characterization of livestock farms and the floristic composition of tree cover in the southeast region of Guatemala. This region belongs to the dry corridor of Central America and presents high vulnerability to drought. Two farms were selected in each of the fifteen municipalities from three departments of the southeast region of Guatemala, which resulted in a total of thirty farms for data collection. A socioeconomical survey was applied to recollect biophysical, socioeconomical, and productive information. As a result, two groups of farms were identified: 1) farms with a high level of technological innovation (HLTI) and 2) farms with a low level of technological innovation (LLTI). Tree data was obtained from individuals with a diameter above breast height (DBH) of >5 cm. Composition, richness, and abundance of tree species were evaluated using Q-Hill Diversity Index. The study area was 790 ha and there were 143 plots distributed randomly in the different stratum found in the 30 farms. Live fences were also present in 1.691 km (169.1 ha) with forty-four transects. Moreover, seven land uses were identified: scattered tress in paddocks, natural forest, agri-silvicultural systems, fodder banks, forest plantation, riparian forest, and live fences. The total amount of individuals were 4,678 that belong to eighty-three species and thirty-seven families of trees. It was found that 77.27 % of the total inventory is dominated by ten species. The percentage of tree cover was determined for each land use. There were marked differences of richness by individuals and density of species accumulated by land use.