Fagus grandifolia subsp. mexicana (Fagaceae) is a taxon endemic to Mexico and is currently considered to be in danger of extinction. It dominates the canopy at the sites where it grows, forming the plant association known as Mexican beech forest. The objectives of this study were to (1) determine the area currently occupied by beech forests in Mexico, based on a literature review; (2) generate maps showing the distribution and area occupied by the less known beech forests in Mexico (which are located in the state of Hidalgo) based on field observations and using geographic information systems; and (3) propose measures that can be taken to protect and manage this plant association. The results show that the beech forests of Mexico currently cover an area of 155.54 ha, and several fragments have recently disappeared. The largest patches of beech forest are located at 5 sites in the state of Hidalgo and occupy a total area of 106.79 ha (73.9%). Each of the sites is different in size, connectedness, and degree of fragmentation and disturbance. The Mexican beech forests urgently require management and conservation programs, as some of them will otherwise soon disappear due to changes in land use, logging, and climate change. To preserve these forests the following measures are suggested in the short term: increase connectedness between beech forest patches, create core areas, reforest with native species, create seed concentrations, regulate the consumption of beechnuts by humans, and include this plant association in the National System of Natural Protected Areas.
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© Inter-Research 2013.