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André Aubréville (1897-1982), a pioneering forester and a visionary mind

Tassin J., Bossanyi I.. 2015. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques (323) : p. 7-18.

André Aubréville was a remarkable figure in the field of forestry. In the 1920s, after training at the Nancy School of Forestry, he joined the colonial forestry service. His books reflect an encyclopaedic mind, clarity of thought and a visionary talent, and still serve as reference works. Realising that the future of tropical forests was under severe threat from human activities, he established forestry bodies that would work to ensure what is known today as sustainable forest production. In 1939, he was appointed Inspector-General of Water and Forests in French Equatorial Africa, but had already achieved renown as a botanist specialising in Sapotaceae and in biogeography. At the age of 60, he was appointed as a Professor at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, and entered the Academy of Sciences of the Institut de France. He was an indefatigable worker who considered botany as a means to reach a better understanding of the complexity of tropical forests. He vigorously opposed ill-founded generalisations, showing how climate, past and present, determines the contours and the local composition of African forest flora, which was being severely harmed by wildfires whose devastating and long-lasting effects he was well aware of. He pioneered the ¿tropicalisation¿ of forestry techniques and was the first to demonstrate the inadequacy of the ¿primary¿ forests concept and to point to the potential of ¿secondary¿ forests. He had no doubt that timber would maintain its value against competing materials in the fifty years to come, and that the most sought-after tree species would remain so for their superior technical properties. In all of his work, he advocated a type of interventionism designed to prevent any form of over-exploitation of tropical for¬est resources. Some may discern an overly colonialist mindset, but in the sheer scope of his proposals in favour of forest protection, it is also possible to see a pioneering and visionary mind at work in the field of forestry. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : sylviculture; aménagement forestier; désertification; sapotaceae; paléoclimatologie; protection de la forêt; composition botanique; taxonomie; flore; histoire; botanique; biographie; forestier; forêt tropicale; afrique au sud du sahara; zone soudano-sahélienne; afrique occidentale; côte d'ivoire; manilkara aubrevillei; okoubaka aubrevillei; dialium aubrevillei; croton aubrevillei; cassia aubrevillei; aubrevillea platycarpa; aubrevillea kerstinguii

Thématique : Foresterie - Considérations générales; Histoire; Taxonomie végétale et phyto-géographie; Dégâts causés aux forêts et leur protection

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