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Queñual tree

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What are the characteristics of the species?

  • The genus Polylepis is represented by approximately 20 tree species in Peru. They grow on rocky slopes, moraines and along small gorges, mainly between 3,500-4,800 m, forming patches of forest (called stands) along the eastern and western slopes in the high parts of the Andes.

  • Polylepis pattern has a height of 4-18 m, has leaves composed of small leaflets, covered by trichomes. Its trunk is twisted and covered by a reddish-brown bark, from which thin sheets emerge, hence the name Polylepis (Poly = many, Lepis = layers). The laminated bark forms a package around the trunk that acts as a thermal insulator, which protects it from frost. Its flowers are small, pollinated by the wind, with reduced petals, outstanding stamens and a broad stigma. Its fruits are achene type, dispersed by the wind.

Where do we study the species?

We study P. pattern in the montane forest of the Apurímac river valley (ELU 1) in Chiquintirca and the surroundings of Jollpas within the area of ​​influence of the gas pipeline.

What questions do we seek to answer with the study?

  • How do the patterns of growth, regeneration and phenology of P. pauta groupings vary in space and time with respect to the distance to the pipeline?

  • How do the macro-nutrients of the soil in which P. pauta grows with respect to the pipeline distance?

What general results have we obtained to date?

  • The clusters of P. pauta trees closest to the duct had a smaller diameter at chest height (38.7 ± 18.8 cm) and a lower height (7.6 ± 2.7 m).

  • The trees in clusters near the pipeline presented the following four phenological phases: vegetative (12%), flowering (10.8%), fruiting (55.4%), and final fruiting stages (68.7%), while trees away from the pipeline only They presented fruiting phase (18.9%) and final fruiting stages (98.1%). The total of the percentages is greater than 100 because many trees entered more than one category. These results indicate that the trees near the pipeline presented phenological asynchrony.

  • The total number of seedlings was greater in areas far from the pipeline.

  • The soils near the pipeline could be influenced by the trampling involved in the construction activities of the gas pipeline. Trampling changes the availability of macronutrients in the soil. In our study, potassium levels in the soil varied between 140.1-153.7 kg / ha at sites close to the pipeline and between 152.4-255.5 kg / ha at distant sites. The ranges increased in the second sampling season to 210.7-280.2 kg / ha and 174.8-248.9 kg / ha, respectively. Potassium is important because it influences the growth, phenology and regeneration of plants, so changes in this macronutrient could explain the patterns observed in P. pauta.

Why is the conservation of this species important?

According to Peruvian legislation (Supreme Decree No. 043.2006-AG), P. pauta is categorized as a vulnerable species. The habitat of P. pauta is being destroyed due to the burning and fires directed to the improvement of pastures, which indirectly affects, impoverishing the soil, or directly, affecting the seedlings and juvenile trees, which over time inhibits regeneration of the species. P. regimen is affected by intensive overgrazing, mainly by goats, sheep, and cows and those who feed on seedlings of this species preventing their regeneration. P. pauta also has pressure for logging since it is a species coveted by local people for fuel either for local use or for the production of coal. It is also cut for the purpose of expanding agricultural areas contributing to the fragmentation of the habitat.

Bosque de queñoales, Polylepis sp.

(Foto: PERU LNG)