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IICA and CATIE launch catalogue on emblematic trees and palms of the Americas

The publication includes relevant characteristics of 24 trees and 6 palms that have been designated as national symbols in different countries of the Americas.

San Jose, 9 October 2020 (IICA). The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) launched the catalogue “Emblematic Trees and Palms of the Americas”, with a view to raising public awareness about the value of the biodiversity, services and benefits of these plants.

The catalogue describes trees and palms from 29 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) that have been declared as official national symbols, due to their importance, and was launched on the occasion of IICA’s 78th anniversary. 

The preparation of the publication called for an extensive literature review and widespread consultation with the competent entities.

The catalogue aims to contribute to knowledge about the trees and palms of the Americas and to highlight the many services provided by various species of trees, which are extremely important to the history, economy, environment and traditions of several communities in the Americas.

It also seeks to restore and preserve the unique arboreal component of the region, with species that are fundamental for the development of the identity of various countries in LAC.

The catalogue includes a general description, the edaphoclimatic features (climate and soil data), frequent uses, ecosystem services and information on the establishment and management (forestry, management and conservation) of each of the species (24 trees and 6 palms in total).

Manuel Otero, Director General of IICA, emphasized that this was the first publication of the Joint IICA-CATIE Unit, and had been developed with great expectations, seeking to motivate, inspire and encourage the planting of trees in the Americas.

Otero remarked that, “We are launching this relevant initiative to underscore the importance of the products, services and benefits of trees and palms to our societies, as well as to recognize the contribution of agriculture to the development and well-being of the rural Americas”.

Muhammad Ibrahim, Director General of CATIE, added that this catalogue is a product that reaffirms the joint efforts between IICA and CATIE to motivate today’s and tomorrow’s generations to look at nature differently, since trees and palms represent products and ecosystem services within the framework of natural resource management, creating many benefits for humanity.

Trees and palms have numerous benefits. They play a critical role by providing fruits, wood, wood-based products, medicine and food for cattle, and also enable the agriculture sector to improve soil and water resources through carbon sequestration, pollination and by providing shade for cattle.

In addition to these benefits, these plants enhance the landscape and scenic beauty of the Americas and contribute to greater climate change resilience, mitigation and adaptation.

Karen Montiel, Technical Specialist at IICA, and Guillermo Detlefsen, Agroforestry Coordinator at CATIE, who coordinated the publication, agreed that, “The catalogue allows readers to gain an in-depth understanding about the benefits of trees, as well as to understand the importance of protecting them and also why they were so cherished by our ancestors”

The “Emblematic Trees and Palms of the Americas” publication is just one of the initiatives of the Joint IICA-CATIE Unit to increase the impact and advocacy of the institutions’ actions for the benefit of agricultural and rural development in the hemisphere.

The publication can be downloaded in PDF format, and is free of cost.



CATIE is a regional center, with strong international ties, that seeks to increase sustainable and inclusive human well-being in Latin America and the Caribbean, through research (applied and basic), education, technical cooperation and the dissemination of knowledge about the sustainable management of agriculture and natural resource conservation.


More information:

Karen Montiel, Technical Specialist, IICA