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Tree growth and mortality of 42 timber species in central Africa

Ligot G., Gourlet-Fleury S., Daïnou K., Gilet J.F., Rossi V., Mazengue M., Nna Ekome S., Nkoulou Y.S., Zombo I., Forni E., Doucet J.L.. 2022. Forest Ecology and Management, 505.

DOI: 10.18167/DVN1/EBN15Y

DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2021.119889

Tree growth and mortality are two central processes in mixed and structurally complex moist tropical forests, yet accurate estimates of the variables needed to model them remain sparse and scattered. It is thus still difficult to predict forest evolution at a local scale and build reliable management plans. To help fill this gap, for 1¿7 years we annually monitored 21,180 trees belonging to 42 species exploited for timber production in Central Africa. We made new species-specific estimates of diameter increments and mortality rates, and investigated how tree growth varied with tree size and logging history. We compared our results with the legal values of diameter increments, mortality rates, and minimum cutting diameters used to build forest management plans in Cameroon. Diameter increment was found to vary with tree size for most of the species studied. The relationships between diameter increment and tree size were mostly humpback-shaped. The trees with diameters close to or lower than the reference minimum cutting diameter generally grew faster than the average. We also found that tree growth could slow for 1¿2 years after timber exploitation and was then spurred for at least 5 years. The tree growth response to logging was nevertheless species-specific. This study provides new estimates of tree diameter increments and mortality rates that could help make more accurate forest projections and draw up sustainable management plans in Africa.

Mots-clés : santé des forêts; production forestière; dynamique des populations; arbre forestier; croissance; mortalité; accroissement forestier; forêt tropicale humide; cameroun; gabon; congo

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