A recent vegetation study [Palacio-Prieto et al. (2000) Bol Inst Geogr UNAM 43:183–203] showed that Mexico’s forest area has declined to 33.3%, from originally 52.0% of the country’s land area. In order to assess strategies for tree diversity conservation, we compiled a list of 846 tree species native to Mexico, and determined for each the presence or absence in 234 geographical squares of 1° latitude by 1° longitude (approximately 106 × 106 km). On the average, any two squares shared only 6% of their species composition. Using a standard optimization method from engineering and economics [Dantzig (1963) Linear programming and extensions. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, USA, 625 p], we determined the minimally necessary land area in Mexico to conserve the 846 tree species, while securing that each species is found in an area of (approximately) 1,100 km2 of currently existing forest vegetation. Furthermore, we took into account 15 existing protected areas with a size of at least 1,100 km2 each. With these constraints, the total minimum area needed to conserve all 846 tree species is 45,136 km2 of currently existing forest vegetation, or 2.3% of Mexico’s surface. While this analysis can be refined with subsequent field work, the proposed reserve network indicates that efficient land use planning on a national scale may be able to conserve tree species diversity in a relatively small portion of Mexico, even after severe deforestation has taken place.
Biodiversity and Conservation – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 17, 2006
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