2022 recensus campaign of San Eusebio forest plots in Venezuelan Andean forests

Recensus of SEU Venezuela

2022 Venezuela

Between March and April of 2022, a team of 8 people led by Luis Gamez and Roxibel Pelayo conducted a full recensus of six permanent plots located in the San Eusebio Experimental Forest station, a 370-ha property of Universidad de Los Andes. This is a fragment of mature Andean cloud forests that once covered a much larger area of the Venezuelan Andean Mountain range. This set of plots was established in 1969 and was continuously measured up to 2016. Due to the severe economic and institutional crisis in Venezuela it has become very hard to maintain this work on a regular basis, but thanks to the support of Rainfor and the Red de Bosques Andinos initiative we were able to continue the monitoring of one of the areas with the longest records across the neotropics.

Because of the extended period without measurements between 2016 and 2022, the team focused on a careful retagging and taxonomic identification of all trees greater than 10 cm following our RAINFOR standard protocol. Approximately 63 different species of trees were registered from which 22 are included in the Red book of the Venezuelan flora, reflecting the importance of this area for the conservation of biological diversity. One of these species is Retrophyllum rospigliosii, one of the very few native species of conifer trees that can be found in the neotropics with many large trees that can reach up to 45 meters in height. The team is now working on the analysis of the data and preparing for uploading into the forestplots.net database. We hope the team can visit other plots of the Venezuelan network soon and keep this project alive and sustain the monitoring of Venezuelan forests.

Emilio Vilanova, Wildlife Conservation Society

For additional information see Collapse of Venezuelan science threatens the world’s most sustained monitoring of tropical forests, 2020 and Emilio Vilanova’s blog


San Eusebio, VEnezuela 2016 (foto Gamez)

Venezuela, 2016.

Between March 30th and May 5th of 2016, thanks to the support of the RAINFOR network and with the coordination of Dr. Hirma Ramírez, a diverse group of students, professors and technicians from Universidad de Los Andes, specifically from the Instituto de Investigaciones para el Desarrollo Forestal (INDEFOR), worked on the re-census of 18 permanent sample plots located in Western Venezuela.

First, six plots located in the Andean cloud forests (San Eusebio) installed during the 1960s were assessed, including a botanical survey and the collection of leaf samples from 61 individuals corresponding to the most important species in the area. This was done by a skilled group of tree climbers and the main goal of this component is to analyze the influence of functional traits in the process of wood productivity across an altitudinal gradient.

Following this, the crew moved to the Caparo Forest Reserve in the Western plains region to evaluate six more plots established originally in 1990. Using a similar approach, a review of some individuals for botanical identification was done, and 27 individuals were also climbed for collecting leaf samples.

Finally, a reduced crew moved to El Caimital sector also in the wester plain region (Barinas state) in order to re-census 6 more plots established in 1960. The participants were Pedro Salcedo (Forest technician), Prof. Ana Hernández, Prof. Luis Gámez (botanist), the climbers Jonathan Mucherino, Luis Nava and Susana Rodríguez, Francy Hernández (undergraduate student) and PhD student Emilio Vilanova. Local helpers or “parataxonomists” Danny Hernández (San Eusebio), Jesús “Chucho” Betancourt (Caparo) and Abel (Caimital) were reallu helpful during this field work. More information can be obtained by mail to Hirma Ramírez (rhirma@gmail.com or rhirma@ula.ve) and Emilio Vilanova (vilanova@ula.ve or vilanova@uw.edu). 

Photo: San Eusebio, Venezuela 2016 (courtesy of Gamez)