Soil quality/health indicators in a disturbed ecosystem in southern Ecuador
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Environmental Management Career, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, Ecuador
DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, Ecuador
Leticia Salomé Jiménez Álvarez   

DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, San Cayetano Alto, 11-01-608, Loja, Ecuador
Submission date: 2020-10-27
Final revision date: 2021-01-23
Acceptance date: 2021-04-21
Online publication date: 2021-07-30
Tropical ecosystems are under increasing pressure from changes in land use (Ch-LUs). These changes significantly alter the quality/health of the soil, thus minimizing the possibilities for further development and human well-being. This occurs in the buffer zone of the Podocarpus National Park (PNP), where the majority of the population has recently been affected by food insecurity. As a means of subsistence, peasant producers have implemented changes in land use to produce food that will improve their living conditions. In this context, the objectives of the study were: (i) to evaluate the effect of Ch-LUs on the main edaphic physical-chemical properties in a buffer zone of the Podocarpus National Park in Ecuador (PNP) and, (ii) to compare whether there is concordance between scientific knowledge and local knowledge with regards to soil fertility management indicators and practices. Soils were analyzed in the laboratory (bulk density (g cm-3), texture, pH, and total carbon (%)) and then compared with local knowledge through semi-structured interviews administered to farmers. The results revealed greater similarity between the uses of crops and pastures, compared to the use of forest, due to a greater alteration in the cultivated and pasture areas, presenting as changes within the soil quality indicators. By integrating the knowledge of the farmer with the scientist, it was shown that they do indeed identify with local indicators of soil quality visible in the field.
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