Demography and sustainable management of two fiber-producing Astrocaryum palms in Colombia

Nestor García*, P.A. Zuidema, G. Galeano, R. Bernal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The spear leaves of the palms Astrocaryum chambira and A. standleyanum have been traditionally used by Colombian indigenous communities as a source of fiber for handicraft production. Traditional management practices, including destructive harvest, have reduced population sizes of both species. We monitored a population of A. chambira in the Amazon, and one of A. standleyanum at the Pacific lowlands of Colombia. We then constructed integral projection models (IPM) to evaluate the transient population dynamics of populations under different exploitation regimes. Our results show that during the next 50 years the population of A. standleyanum will grow at an annual rate of 2.0 percent, and that of A. chambira at a rate of 0.8 percent. However, projected population growth is highly sensitive to harvest in both species: a destructive harvest of 5 percent of all usable individuals (subadults and adults) would cease population growth, while a 10 percent harvest intensity would cause populations to decrease by 0.5–0.6 percent annually. Our simulations further indicate that management practices associated with indigenous slash-and-burn agriculture would reduce fiber production, whereas caring for seedlings would increase population growth and fiber production in the coming decades. In order to sustain viable populations of both species and maintain a steady fiber supply, it is vital to prevent destructive harvest practices, and to leave some forest areas untouched, where populations can regenerate and act as a source of seedlings for intervened areas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)598-607
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Astrocaryum chambira
  • Astrocaryum standleyanum
  • handicrafts
  • integral projection models
  • non-timber forest products


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