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Plant Focus

For this Species Spotlight we train our follow spot on an oak that is quite a star of the quercine scene: Quercus hypoleucoides (stage name...

First Community Festival of Conservation of Quercus brandegeei 2022

On November 5, 2022, a team of organizations, including CIBNOR, The Morton Arboretum, the Department of Ecology and Environment (SEMA), the Municipal Department of Education, Dissemination and Environmental Promotion (Los Cabos), Fondation Franklinia, Conservation Leadership Program (CLP), CONANP, and the Global Conservation Consortium for Oak (GCCO), co-led the First Community Festival for the Conservation of the Arroyo Oak (Quercus brandegeei) 2022 in the Ecological Park of Santiago, Los Cabos, Baja California Sur.

Since the species conservation program known as “Salvemos al Encino Arroyero” (Save the Arroyo Oak) was launched in 2021, it was determined to establish a local network to work together to implement comprehensive management and conservation strategies to prevent extinction of the species. As a result of holding a community workshop and symposium in October of the same year (http://mortonarb.org/arroyo), this important festival was held with the purpose of addressing fundamental aspects discussed in the workshops, such as raising awareness, providing environmental education, and disseminating information to communities.

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The delegate of the Santiago community, Óscar Manríquez, kicked off the event with a welcome and thanks to the guests of honor and attendees and initiated the Festival with ribbon-cutting ceremony. After the tour and presentation of the different stands, there was a screening of the mini-documentary Salvemos al Encino Arroyero, developed by The Morton Arboretum in collaboration with CIBNOR, Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve, and local community members.

Daniel Pérez Morales, local coordinator of the Q. brandegeei conservation project, was in charge of giving an informative talk to a group of more than 60 people about the project, which summarizes the global objective of this effort: Save the tree from extinction! In paying a brief tribute to the late Dr. Aurora Breceda Solís, researcher and professor at CIBNOR and one of the main collaborators of this project, an honorary tree planting of a Q. brandegeei was carried out inside the park, attended by Festival participants and guests of honor.

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Image credits: Silvia Alvarez Clare, Daniel Pérez Morales (click here to view an album of photos of the event)

Quercus brandegeei, locally known as arroyo oak, is an endemic tree species of the Cape Region of the Baja California Peninsula; it is threatened with extinction. This species provides multiple environmental services and is highly valued by local people: it is used as firewood and to make handicrafts and tools, as well as being an important source of food for livestock and for human consumption in the form of atole, flour, and oil extracted from acorns.

More than 200 people who attended the arroyo oak Festival enjoyed the activities, contests, prizes, and gifts. Fifteen children between the ages of six and fifteen participated in the drawing contest in the children's and youth category. The prize for the best acorn-based atole made from arroyo oaks was awarded to three participants who surprised the judges with their interesting and delicious recipes.

Participation in the Festival was wonderful, and the topics presented on the species, such as its ecology, propagation, management, and conservation, were of interest because the information shared was of a local nature. This allowed those who work directly with the species as well as those in the communities of San Dionisio, San Jorge, La Ribera, and Miraflores to feel involved and identify with the activities. In addition, a group of attendees adopted arroyo oak trees, acknowledging the great interest in the community in supporting the conservation project.

Within the framework of the event, local and municipal authorities, educational entities, NGOs, and local community members discussed the activities that can be carried out jointly on the subject of management, conservation, and dissemination of information about the project.

This project was funded by The Morton Arboretum, Fondation Franklinia, BGCI, CLP, CIBNOR, and others. For more information, please visit the project website.