Ecology and Management of the Chilean Palm (Jubaea chilensis): History, Current Situation and Perspectives
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The Chilean palm, Jubaea chilensis (Front Cover), one of the most emblematic tree species of the Chilean flora, has suffered a gradual reduction of its population numbers in the last 150 years, with the estimated 120,000 palms that exist today being no more than 2.5% of the existing population found at the beginning of the 19th Century. From an economic point of view, this plant has been one of the most prized species in the central zone of Chile due to its two valuable products – its sap, the basis of the traditional palm honey industry, and its seeds (mini-coconuts), which are also an important product for the food industry. Along with a history of extensive use, there has been a drastic reduction of the accompanying native vegetation due to anthropogenic activities, thus reducing the appropriate habitats for the natural regeneration of this species. Given its current ecological condition and the need to implement strategies that ensure its conservation, it is necessary to evaluate current knowledge of the palm. This article gives a general background of the species, i.e. biogeography, ecology and history of use, and general recommendations are provided to ensure its persistence in the central zone of Chile.