Erin Raboin, MF

2012 TRI Fellow in Panama

Ecosystem Services in the Tropics: Quantifying species composition and standing carbon in a mixed-use landscape in rural Panama


Panama is a pilot country in the UN REDD program, and must develop accurate estimates of carbon stores across its landscape.  While there have been advances in the primary and secondary forests, there has been little work done in the agricultural landscape.  The purpose of this study is to delineate the species composition, distribution, and carbon sequestration potential of silvopastoral systems in rural Panama.  Eleven pastures were censused during 2012, six pastures near the boundary of Soberania National Park, and five pastures near the small village of Giral.  Trees were categorized as either growing within fragmented riverine forest, within living fence rows, or as isolated trees.  All trees over ten centimeters DBH, in all categories, were censused.  Within living fence rows, all trees over one centimeter DBH were censused.  Riverine forest was dominated by larger, late-successional species.  Living fence rows were dominated by fast-growing early successional species, and prolifically sprouting species that developed from cut branches used as fence posts.  Isolated trees were often species with high economic or cultural value, such as timber species or fruit trees.  A surprisingly diverse system, over 200 species were identified, though Miconia argentea was the dominant species surveyed.  Species diversity and number of stems per acre was lower in pastures along the gradient ranging between the village and the national park.  The results of this study will help improve large scale estimates of carbon sequestration across the mixed-use landscape of Panama.