Although many examples of multiple-use forest management may be found in tropical smallholder systems, few studies provide empirical support for the integration of selective timber harvesting with non-timber forest product (NTFP) extraction. Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa, Lecythidaceae) is one of the world’s most economically-important NTFP species extracted almost entirely from natural forests across the Amazon Basin. An obligate out-crosser, Brazil nut flowers are pollinated by large-bodied bees, a process resulting in a hard round fruit that takes up to 14 months to mature. As many smallholders turn to the financial security provided by timber, Brazil nut fruits are increasingly being harvested in logged forests. We tested the influence of tree and stand-level covariates (distance to nearest cut stump and local logging intensity) on total nut production at the individual tree level in five recently logged Brazil nut concessions covering about 4000 ha of forest in Madre de Dios, Peru. Our field team accompanied Brazil nut harvesters during the traditional harvest period (January-April 2012 and January-April 2013) in order to collect data on fruit production. Three hundred and ninety-nine (approximately 80%) of the 499 trees included in this study were at least 100 m from the nearest cut stump, suggesting that concessionaires avoid logging near adult Brazil nut trees. Yet even for those trees on the edge of logging gaps, distance to nearest cut stump and local logging intensity did not have a statistically significant influence on Brazil nut production at the applied logging intensities (typically 1–2 timber trees removed per ha). In one concession where at least 4 trees ha-1 were removed, however, the logging intensity covariate resulted in a marginally significant (0.09) P value, highlighting a potential risk for a drop in nut production at higher intensities. While we do not suggest that logging activities should be completely avoided in Brazil nut rich forests, when a buffer zone cannot be observed, low logging intensities should be implemented. The sustainability of this integrated management system will ultimately depend on a complex series of socioeconomic and ecological interactions. Yet we submit that our study provides an important initial step in understanding the compatibility of timber harvesting with a high value NTFP, potentially allowing for diversification of forest use strategies in Amazonian Perù.
The Brazil nut production data have been uploaded to the dataverse network. The global ID is the following: http://hdl.handle.net/11463/10053. We would please ask that any parties interested in accessing the data contact Manuel Guariguata (firstname.lastname@example.org) and advise him that they are using the data, just as a courtesy.