March 28, 2011
Studying the palms in the Colombian Amazon, researchers harvested leaves to see how well the palms would stand up to stripping. They found that if more than half the palm leaves are picked—i.e. leaving the plant with less than four leaves—it could jeopardize the individual's survival.
The study also found that long-term harvesting is only sustainable if palms are allowed four years to recover after leaves are harvested. In addition, harvesting palms from juvenile plants should be avoided to ensure survival of the population.
Pressure due to harvesting could also be relieved on the market end.
"One way to reduce pressure on the resource is to improve the quality of the braided tiles sold in the market. A properly braided tile, made with appropriate leaves, will last longer, and will therefore reduce the need for replacement," the authors write.
CITATION: Navarro, J. A., Galeano, G. and Bernal, R. 2011. Impact of leaf harvest on populations of Lepidocaryum tenue, an Amazonian understory palm used for thatching. Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 4 (1):25-38.
Vines rising in the Amazon and other American rainforests
(02/14/2011) For years tropical scientists have anecdotally reported an increase in vines in the Amazon and other American tropical forests, but now a number of studies have confirmed such reports: vines are on the rise in Neotropical rainforests.
Eight new plants discovered in Bolivia
(11/07/2010) Researchers have described eight new species of plant from in and near Madidi National Park in the Bolivian Andes. Described in the journal Novon by botanists with the Missouri Botanical Garden and the National Herbaium in Laz Paz, Bolivia, seven of the eight plants were found as apart of the Proyecto Madidi (Project Madidi), a ten year effort to describe the plant species of three inter-connecting protected areas in Bolivia—Madidi National Park, Pilón Lajas Biosphere Reserve and Communal Lands, and Apolobamba Integrated Management Natural Area.
Losing nature's medicine cabinet
(10/04/2010) In all the discussions of saving the world's biodiversity from extinction, one point is often and surprisingly forgotten: the importance of the world's species in providing humankind with a multitude of life-saving medicines so far, as well as the certainty that more vital medications are out there if only we save the unheralded animals and plants that contain cures unknown. Already, species have provided humankind everything from quinine to aspirin, from morphine to numerous cancer and HIV-fighting drugs. "As the ethnobotanist Dr. Mark Plotkin commented, the history of medicine can be written in terms of its reliance on and utilization of natural products," physician Christopher Herndon told mongabay.com. Herndon is co-author of a recent paper in the journal Biotropica, which calls for policy-makers and the public to recognize how biodiversity underpins not only ecosystems, but medicine.