Paulsch, A; Schneider, R; Hartig, K: Landuse induced vegetation structure in a montane region in Southern Ecuador, Die Erde, 132(1), 93-102 (2001)
Though the montane forests of Southern Ecuador are known as a hotspot of biodiversity they are vanishing owing to human land use. To investigate the processes that are responsible for the landscape pattern the mosaic of land-use units was mapped along the Rio San Francisco/Rio Zamora valley. The distribution of forest remnants, landslides, clearings, pastures, farmland and houses was described. On 12 farms the vegetation structure was recorded for each patch by noting parameters such as number of strata, coverage, height, density of cattle tracks or coverage of ferns. Patches were grouped to homogenous units with the help of a cluster analysis. Pasture appeared to be the main form of land use while forest remnants are restricted to unfavourable sites like ravines or are drawn back to higher elevations. Fern covers large patches that can no longer be used as pasture. Investigation of species composition revealed that pasture patches can be divided into three groups depending on the dominating grass. Fern patches show a higher percentage of woody species with higher age so that they can be seen as a stage of succession. The landscape pattern is the result of a land-use system following the scheme of burning primary forest, planting grass (the species depending on soil conditions) and setting patches aside that are invaded by fern. This necessitates burning of more forest parts. Reforestation is not part of the system and only exotic species are planted in small areas. This process will lead to the complete loss of the primary montane forest.

last modified 2007-03-15