DNRE, Oct. 1976
The Rio Abajo forest (5780 cuerdas) established in 1935 by the Reconstruction Administration is located between Dos Bocas lake and the Tanama river in the municipalities of Utuado and Arecibo. This moist limestone forest has very irregular topography, subterranian drainage, caves, natural depressions or sinkholes and haystack hills all characteristic of karst geological development. Elevation within the forest ranges between 200 m in some of the natural depressions in the northern part and 424 m at Jobos in the southwest section of the forest.
The Rio Abajo forest is located in the humid region of the northern limestone hills receiving an average of 2006mm (measured at Dos Bocas) precipitation annually. The most rain falls in May and October with decreased amounts of precipitation in June and July. The climatic regimen resembles that of the north coast; but the Rio Abajo region is more humid because the higher and less regular relief offers more opportunities for orographic rains.
Mean monthly temperature is 25.5 degrees C. Diurinal variation is much larger than annual which is characteristic of tropical and subtropical areas.
The largest portion of Rio Abajo forest is classified as subtropical wet forest; however, a small portion of subtropical moist forest has been mapped in the northeast extreme of the forest. Both life zones consist of two vegetation associations derived from limestone soils: limestone hillside and mogote top, and sinkholes and narrow valleys between the hills.
The natural vegetation on these soils is much more xerophytic than would be expected under the high rainfall of this area as is true of most limestone-derived soils. THe dry edaphic condition has an effect similar to that of reduced rainfall, a consideration which must be taken into account in land use planning.
Much of the subtropical wet forest in and surrounding Rio Abajo Forest is covered by successional vegetation as a result of the emigration of much of the former rural population due to the inappropriateness of this region for agriculture. Typical successional species include Piper aduneum (higuillo), Cecropia peltata(Yagrumo hembra),Didymopanax morototoni and Ochroma lagopus (balsa). Other common tree species found in the moist limestone forest include: Coccoloba diversifolia (pigeon plum),Bucida buceras (ucar), Bursera simaruba (gumbo limbo), and Clusia rosea (cupey).
During 1936-1938 the Civilian Conservation Corps planted large areas in Rio Abajo with maria (Calophyllum brasiliense) and Dominican mahogany (Swietenia mahogani). Since 1962, approximately 217 cuerdas have been planted to Honduran pine, maho, teak, kadam, and Honduran mahogany.
Checklist for this area coming soon!
Designed by Alexander Gershenson.