[photo] Agotis live among its buttress roots. Human residents of the forests collect seeds for consumption. When toasted, they taste like a combination of cashews and peanuts. The bark is used for purple die and medicinal purposes. These traditional uses may be the tree's salvation from extinction. Scientific efforts to save the shihuahuaco have failed so far.
In 2015, the National Forestry and Wild Fauna Service, known as SEFOR formed a working group of specialists to recommend how to save threatened trees. Its published final study included the shihuahuaco among the 61 species considered to be in critical danger. It was forwarded to environment minister Fabiola Muñoz. The report silently disappeared into the bureaucracy. A investigator familiar with the study and the workings of Peruvian government has a typical opinion of what happened to the scientific recommendation for protection. He told an interviewer that the lumber industry succeeded in quashing SEFOR's study. Their opinion simply carries more weight with government officials. According to the agency that supervises wildlife and forest resources, OSIFOR, the most logged tree species are the Peruvian pine (9% of the total), lupuna (8.8 %), cumula (8.6%) and, in fourth place, shihuahuaco (5.5%). Most of the lumber is destined for Mexico and the US where it is turned into furniture and parquet flooring.
|dried shihuahuaco fruit, credit: D. Requena Suarez|