Tag Archives: Tree

Two exciting seminars on Maya Nut tree at Kew

Participants on one of many Maya Nut capacity building courses funded by the Darwin Initiative. This one was at Versailles, Chichigalpa, in Nicaragua. Image: Erika Vohman, Maya Nut Institute

On the 24th and 25th of April Erika Vohman (CEO of the Maya Nut Institute) and Mike Rowley a grad student at the University of Bournemouth gave two great talks at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and its subsidiary, the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst in Sussex. Erika spoke about our Darwin Initiative project with the tropical tree Brosimum alicastrum or Maya Nut which finished last month within the context of focusing sustainable development projects in Central America on women and markets.

The slide above shows the role of Maya Nut (Brosimum alicastrum) and livelihoods in the sustainable use and conservation of forests in Central America. Our project invested in workshops and the generation of knowledge to support its sustainable use.

Continue reading Two exciting seminars on Maya Nut tree at Kew

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Three months on: how our seedlings are developing

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Rolman Velarde at the Motacusal nursery with one the seedlings sown in October. Note the length of the roots!

It is now three months since we sowed our first seed and most of the seedlings are now 40  cm tall and ready for planting out. Together with Terry Pennington I am planning to travel to Bolivia in a couple of weeks where with Peruvian Jaime Leon  we will assist with establishing the first Inga agroforest plot in the Amazon. The only problem is that most of the community members are deep in the forest harvesting Brazil Nuts!

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Monitoring our progress

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Jazmín Daza is a vital part of our team and engages with the four communities in a participative manner, collecting baseline data and facilitating the decision-making within each community needed to make sure that our agroforest plots are serving their purpose

As highlighted in an earlier post the use of Agroforests have not been widely adopted in Latin America. Whilst we don’t know why this is we intend to maximise its chance of success in the Amazon by ensuring that the communities who adopt it are fully engaged and in control of how it is delivered. This we hope will make it more likely to keep it going once our intervention is complete. This approach involves participative monitoring of progress and consultation over where plots are located and what crops are grown as well as the provision of training that will see them masters of the technology and potential teachers to other communities in the region. Continue reading Monitoring our progress

Maya Nut: not just an ordinary fruit (or nut)

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A ripe Maya Nut fruit, the sweet fleshy green outer layer of the fruit is consumed by bats, birds and monkeys leaving the intact seed to fall to the forest floor.

Our recent findings have lead us to develop a protocol which enables the storage of Maya Nut (Brosimum alicastrum) seed for several months. As part of this we asked Wolfgang Stuppy from the Millennium Seed Bank to have a look at the anatomy of the fruit and seed to see whether we could get any insights into why it behaves as it does. As part of this work he came across some very interesting facts about the fruit and seed. Continue reading Maya Nut: not just an ordinary fruit (or nut)

Maya Nut: developing a storage protocol for a Central American famine food

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Maya Nut (Brosimum alicastrum) freshly harvested and roasted. Freshly harvested seeds as they are collected from the forest floor (pale brown, foreground) and after they have been roasted prior to being ground into a flour

Our recent findings have lead us to develop a protocol which enables the storage of Maya Nut (Brosimum alicastrum) seed for several months. Since September 2012 Anaité López (Instituto Nacional de Bosques, Guatemala), Tim Marks (Millennium Seed Bank) and Wolfgang Stuppy (The Millennium Seed Bank) have been working at the Millennium Seed Bank to develop a long-term storage protocol for the seed of the Maya Nut tree (Brosimum alicastrum). Maya Nut is a significant famine food for the rural poor in northern Central America but at the moment it is not possible to store the seed for more than a couple of weeks. Previous posts have highlighted the observation that this seed does not survive for long in the wild and this has been believed to be a consequence of the seed’s very thin papery coat which leaves it vulnerable to desiccation and fungal attack .  Continue reading Maya Nut: developing a storage protocol for a Central American famine food

Secondary forest on bauxite in Brazil

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Secondary forests can be recognized by the species and life-forms that they include and which are notably absent. Also by the uniform diameter of the canopy trees and it’s relatively low stature

Secondary forests are those that grow back in places that have been deforested. They are forests composed of species often known as ‘pioneer’ or ‘secondary’ that are adapted to colonizing disturbed sites and so very different from those that composed the original forest before they were cut down. I have been interested in secondary forests for many years, beginning with my PhD in forest fragments in the Amazon and later working in the secondary forests that dominate Belize and then again in the shade-coffee farms of El Salvador. I find these forests fascinating for several reasons: firstly they are growing rapidly in importance due to extensive deforestation and yet remain poorly studied, secondly they contain species that are often important sources of fuel and materials for local people, and thirdly they contain species that are often able to establish themselves on the incredibly poor soils found in much of the Tropics without recourse to the rich leaf-litter or root-mat layers that enable the original forest to survive, and so are very interesting in their own right. Continue reading Secondary forest on bauxite in Brazil

Two months on: how the seedlings are developing

It is over two months since we planted our first seeds and after a good start our seedlings are  thriving despite the unwanted attention of crickets. Some of the seedlings are now 35 cm tall and will be ready to plant out within a few weeks.

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The seedling nursery at Motacusal has done very well. The community have even prepared and planted some additional seed (Image: Rolman Velarde)

Continue reading Two months on: how the seedlings are developing

Our strategy for delivering Inga agroforests


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By working through the process of producing an agroforest with each community and having them make key decisions at each step we aim to generate capacity as well as buy-in for this attempt at permaculture

Agroforests were first promoted in the 1980’s but have never taken off in Latin America despite substantial investment through the World Agroforestry Centre. We don’t know why this is the case: whether too much burden of risk was placed on poor farmers, whether there was not enough engagement with farmers or whether the investment just never made it to the ground.  To try and avoid the same fate  we aim to Continue reading Our strategy for delivering Inga agroforests

Our 13,000 seedlings start germinating…

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A member of the community of San José inspecting the germinating seedlings that he helped plant and has been tending. They took two weeks to get this big, about 15 cm. Once they are 40 cm tall, they will be planted out in rows four metres apart where over the course of a year they will develop into small trees and start to enrich the soil and sustain agriculture. Well that’s the plan at least.