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Thinning after selective logging facilitates floristic composition recovery in a tropical rain forest of Central Africa : Method, insights and perspectives

Ouédraogo D.Y., Beina D., Picard N., Mortier F., Baya F., Gourlet-Fleury S.. 2011. Forest Ecology and Management, 262 (12) : p. 2176-2186.

In the Congo Basin where most timber species are light-demanding, the low logging intensities commonly implemented (1-2 trees harvested ha?1) do not provide sufficient canopy gaps to ensure species regeneration. The regeneration of light-demanding timber species may therefore benefit from more intensive logging, or from post-harvest treatments such as thinning by poison girdling that increases light penetration. Little is known of the impact of post-harvest treatments on the floristic composition of tropical moist forests. This study therefore aimed to assess the effects of low and high selective logging (?2.33 and 4.73 trees harvested ha?1, and ?4.96 and 9.16 m2 ha?1 of basal area removed (logging + damage), respectively) - followed or not by thinning (?21.14 trees thinned ha?1, and ?6.57 m2 ha?1 of basal area removed) - on the floristic composition of a tropical moist forest in the Central African Republic, from 7 to 23 years after logging. We analyzed abundance data for 110 tree genera recorded every year for 14 years in 25 one-hectare permanent subplots. We used multivariate analysis to detect floristic variations between treatments and we assessed changes in floristic composition throughout the period. We compared floristic composition recovery between thinned and unthinned subplots, using unlogged subplots as a reference characterizing the pre-logging floristic composition. Logging and thinning had little impact on the floristic composition of the subplots as quantified 7 to 23 years later, though they did increase the proportion of pioneer species. Surprisingly, additional thinning at both logging levels failed to further distance floristic composition from that of the unlogged subplots, though it did increase disturbance intensity. Floristic composition recovery appeared to be facilitated when thinning was associated with logging. Thinning seemed to favor the growth and survival of non-pioneer species, to the detriment of pioneer species. These non-pioneer species could either be non-pioneer light demanders or shade-bearers. One explanation for this is that thinning by tree-poison girdling increased light availability without causing major damage to the forest, and thus increased the growth and survival of advance regeneration. The resulting enhanced competition then reduced the survival of pioneer species. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : Évaluation de l'impact; Écologie forestière; inventaire forestier; composition botanique; abattage d'arbres; forêt tropicale humide; république centrafricaine; fleuve congo; Éclaircie forestière

Thématique : Production forestière; Ecologie végétale; Taxonomie végétale et phyto-géographie

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