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Conservation of tropical humid forest and wood supply in French Guiana: how sustainable forest plantation could help to respond to local demand in the future?

Blanc L., Nicolini E.A., Sabbadin D., Morel H., Nicolle S., Descroix L., Beauchêne J.. 2016. In : Plinio Sist (ed.), Stéphanie Carrière (ed.), Pia Parolin (ed.), Pierre-Michel Forget (ed.). Tropical ecology and society reconciliating conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Program and abstracts. Storrs : ATBC, p. 221. Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC 2016), 2016-06-19/2016-06-23, Montpellier (France).

In French Guiana, the forest sector (including private and public actors) will face strategic choices to respond to the increasing demand in wood supply for the coming decades. Indeed population in French Guiana is currently growing at a rate of around 2.5% per year and should exceed 500 000 inhabitants by 2050 leading to an increased consumption of material, energy and space. Tropical humid forests that cover 90% of the territory will be at the center of production and conservation concerns. Strategic choices, based on strong political decisions, include the volume of wood to be produced locally, the type of production (timber vs fuelwood) and the origin (plantation vs natural forest). We conducted a work to analyze the opportunities of the forestry sector to meet these challenges. All wood supply is currently provided through the management of natural forests. An alternative issue would be to produce wood from forest plantation. Experimental tree plantations have been developed since the 70's in French Guiana. More than 30 local species and 26 exotic species have been tested to evaluate their potential in tree plantation. Up to now no plantation were established at lager scale in French Guiana. We identified various scenarios to reach the wood supply by 2050. The scenarios were elaborated in two phases. First, we interviewed key actors of the forestry sector who gave their view on that perspective. It appeared that tree plantation is considered as a real opportunity for most of the actors. Second, species performance in tree plantation trials was carefully analyzed through mortality rates and tree productivity. Six species (four locals and two exotics) were identified with a high potential for sustainable forest plantation. Sustainability of natural forest management was also assessed based on the results provided by the Paracou experimental plot. Four main scenarios were identified. Wood production is calculated for both managed forests and forest plantation and duration of each production cycle is provided. For each scenario, surface dedicated for natural forest management and tree plantation is estimated. Results are discussed in the light of the sparing and sharing strategies. The four scenarios are providing a framework of discussions that could help the actors to focus on the long term and to imagine the likely impacts of current policy choices on conservation of natural forests.

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