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Integrating ecological and socioeconomic criteria in a GIS-based multicriteria-multiobjective analysis to develop sustainable harvesting strategies for Mexican oregano Lippia graveolens Kunth, a non-timber forest product

Irina, Llamas-Torres, Javier, Bello-Pineda, Teresa, Castillo-Burguete María, Eurídice, Leyequien-Abarca, Luz María del Carmen, Calvo-Irabien
Land use policy 2019 v.81 pp. 668-679
Lippia graveolens, decision making, environmental assessment, geographic information systems, harvesters, harvesting, income, land suitability, land tenure, leaves, monitoring, nontimber forest products, oregano, rural families, socioeconomics, vegetation
Mexican oregano is a non-timber forest product harvested in natural vegetation and represents an important source of income for rural families. Recent reports have highlighted decreases in natural populations caused by increased harvest intensity. Oregano leaf harvesting is a complex problem, involving different components and views, and has a clear spatial dimension. We proposed an analytical framework based on multi-criteria-multi-objective analyses. GIS tools were used as the platform for managing, displaying and analyzing ecological and socioeconomic information from different sources in order to evaluate land suitability of three different management strategies for two competing land objectives: oregano Harvest and oregano Regeneration.The incorporation of environmental evaluation criteria in the analysis allowed the identification of new potential oregano harvesting areas which were neither reported by harvesters, nor registered during harvesting trips. Socio-economic criteria, such as land tenure, highlighted the fact that a substantial proportion of current oregano harvesting areas are located outside ejido limits resulting in potential conflicts for resource access. The proposed Balanced oregano management strategy, in which the same proportion of suitable area (50%) was assigned to both objectives, represents the most favorable management strategy. This option allows harvesters to continue earning an income from oregano leaf harvest; and at the same time helps in the selection of the best areas for oregano regeneration. It also represents a management strategy with a smaller impact on oregano populations and on the harvesters´ income, as well as lower monitoring costs. The proposed analytical framework may contribute to advance the application of systematic approaches for solving decision-making problems in areas where oregano leaves and other NTFP are harvested.