Kew Bulletin

, Volume 65, Issue 4, pp 603–611 | Cite as

Cycad propagation by rural nurseries in Mexico as an alternative conservation strategy: 20 years on

  • A. P. VovidesEmail author
  • M. A. Pérez-Farrera
  • C. Iglesias


Propagation of the cycad Dioon edule aimed at sustainable management in the state of Veracruz, Mexico has been ongoing since 1990 under the supervision of staff at Francisco Javier Botanic Garden, with the principal objectives of addressing illegal trafficking and habitat destruction. Plant sales have been limited. Nevertheless these, along with the sale of other managed forest products, have given the cycad producers and other villagers enough incentive to conserve 80 hectares of cycad habitat and to discourage illegal collecting. This model was taken up by four similar nurseries in the buffer zones of two biosphere reserves in Chiapas for the propagation of four additional cycad species and two endangered Chamaedorea palms. A further biosphere reserve in Puebla hosts a similar nursery for the critically endangered D. caputoi. Here the producers are paid through the Reserve authority for cultivation and reintroduction of the cycad. All species were studied at the population level prior to and during nursery establishment. Cultivation knowledge has been passed on to the farmers as well as limited help in marketing. Seedling reintroduction experiments have been carried out but further demographic studies of D. edule and C. mirandae have given reason to re-think reintroduction strategies. There is great potential for these nurseries to act as shelter for rescued plants during civil engineering projects. The marketing problem is still an issue and has been approached by the involvement of conservation authorities in Chiapas to assist the producers with permit paperwork and to seek markets. This experience is an important example of botanic garden extension to rural communities in Mexico that covers several articles of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Key words

Cultivation endangered species reintroduction sustainable management 



The authors thank the members of the various nurseries in Chiapas and Veracruz for their solidarity and patience over the years, essential for making this venture possible at their respective localities; Las Golondrinas, Andrés Quintana Roo, La Sombra, Tres Picos, Nueva Independencia and Monte Oscuro. Thanks are due to the Clavijero Botanic Garden staff and students Melquiades Cruz and Julieta Hernández for assisting in the mycorrhiza experiments and gardeners Julian Pérez and Javier Hernández for the care of experimental seedlings. Thanks also to students and collaborators of the second author at the Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas. Acknowledgement is also due to the various funding agencies that have awarded grants over the years: Comision Nacional para el Conocimiento y uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO), Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT), Fauna & Flora International, Comision Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP) for the Biosphere Reserves of El Triunfo and La Sepultura, U. S. Fish and Wild Service, Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Teconlogía (CONACyT), GTZ-Germany and Instituto Veracruzano de Desarrollo Rural (INVEDER). The first author thanks the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for assessing the Clavijero Botanic Garden in its early years and for inviting the first author to three crucial Kew plant conservation conferences in 1978, 1991 and 2009 that has given us much inspiration to continue. Finally the authors thank Sonia Galicia Castellanos for preparation of the figures for this manuscript and an anonymous reviewer whose positive comments helped to improve the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. P. Vovides
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. A. Pérez-Farrera
    • 2
  • C. Iglesias
    • 1
  1. 1.Jardín Botánico Fco. J. ClavijeroInstituto de Ecología, A.C.XalapaMexico
  2. 2.Escuela de BiologíaUNICACH, Tuxtla GutiérrezChiapasMexico

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