Human induced pressures are the major transformation force of Brazilin Atlantic Forest. The last forest remnants, together with the iconic cabruca agroforests (biodiversity friendly cocoa systems) hosting Southern Bahia’s unique biodiversity continue their rapid vanishing, giving place to intensive agricultural land systems. Our project aims to quantify the current state of plant biodiversity in our Southern Bahia, because preserving plant biodiversity is crucial for the conservation of habitats pf multiple animal groups. In our research areas, every six months, we monitor the diversity of grasses, shrubs, and trees and their growth, to quantify changes across time. Our monitoring not only involves the incorporation of scientific tools, but also the integration local knowledge to identify plant species, and their value for nature and humans. We hope that by understanding the major social factors driving plant biodiversity changes, we can provide a way forward to their successful conservation.
In these plots, since May 2022 and every four months, we have been recording the characteristics of the vegetation with the aim of assessing the changes in vegetation composition associated with the land use intensification gradient. To do this, we identified and quantified the different species of medium and large trees and shrubs. We also measured the circumference of the trunks of the largest trees and identified them with a rectangular metal plate. To complete the survey, we estimated the vegetation cover of the soil and the cover of the tree canopy.
The project has the collaboration of 28 cocoa producers in the region, which has allowed us to install 60 research plots along a land use intensification gradient.
Due to climatic influences and other factors that occur in the study areas, we perform regular maintenance on plots, replace stakes, and identify missing or damaged signs.
In this way, we are generating abundant and up-to-date information on factors that may be determining pollination and other important dynamics for biodiversity and agricultural production.