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See detailTree allometry in Central Africa: Testing the validity of pantropical multi-species allometric equations for estimating biomass and carbon stocks
Fayolle, Adeline ULg; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg; Gillet, Jean-François et al

in Forest Ecology & Management (2013), (305), 29-37

There is a lot of uncertainty in the amount and spatial variations of above-ground biomass in Africa, partly because very few allometric equations are available. The aim of this study was to assess the ... [more ▼]

There is a lot of uncertainty in the amount and spatial variations of above-ground biomass in Africa, partly because very few allometric equations are available. The aim of this study was to assess the validity of using pan-tropical multispecies allometric equations developed by Chave et al. (2005) for estimating the above-ground biomass of trees in Central Africa and/or to develop site-specific equations. The study was conducted in lowland tropical forests of South-eastern Cameroon, at the edge between evergreen and semi-evergreen forests. Data of above-ground woody biomass were obtained from destructive sampling of 138 trees belonging to 47 taxa across a huge range of diameter (5.30–192.50 cm) and wood specific gravity (0.284–1.152 g cm 3). A set of local site-specific multi- and single-species models relating above-ground biomass to tree diameter and wood specific gravity were fitted to the data. The best model was selected using information criterion. Both tree diameter and wood specific gravity were important predictor to consider for the estimation of above-ground biomass at tree scale. Single-species models were not necessarily better than multi-species models including wood specific gravity as a predictor. The best local multi-species model had the same structure and parameters as the pan-tropical equation developed by Chave et al. (2005) for moist forests. The estimates from the pan-tropical multi-species equation were nearly as good as those of the local multi-species equation. Using wood specific gravity from the global data base only slightly increased the estimation errors, because for the study taxa wood specific gravity was highly correlated to wood specific gravity from the global data base. In this study, we showed that the pantropical multi-species allometric equation developped for moist forests can be used to produce accurate estimates of biomass and carbon stocks from diameter measurement in forest inventory and wood specific gravity from global data base at species level. These findings are especially timely given the urgent need to quantify biomass and carbon stocks in the tropics, and given the spatial extent of moist forests in Central Africa. [less ▲]

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See detailEcology of Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae), a Timber Species Considered as Endangered, in Southeastern Cameroon
Bourland, Nils ULg; Kouadio, Yao Lambert; Lejeune, Philippe ULg et al

in Biotropica (2012), 44(6), 840-847

Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae) is a tall tree of high commercial value of the moist semi-deciduous African forests. As a result of logging which started decades ago, it is considered as threatened and ... [more ▼]

Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae) is a tall tree of high commercial value of the moist semi-deciduous African forests. As a result of logging which started decades ago, it is considered as threatened and included on both IUCN Red List and CITES Appendix II even though essential biological parameters controlling its population dynamics remain unknown. This study aims at improving the knowledge of the species ecological parameters and at assessing the impact of selective logging on its populations in an 118,052 ha forest in Cameroon. After inventorying the species in 1,432 ha, mortality and growth were assessed over continuous 5- and 2-year periods in unlogged and logged areas, respectively. Phenology was monitored in the unlogged forest during 5 years. The population structure followed a bell-shaped curve. Mean annual diameter increments in both environments did not differ significantly between unlogged and logged areas. P. elata is a deciduous species that flowers at the end of the main dry season. The minimum reproduction and effective flowering diameters were, respectively, 32 and 37 cm. Fruit maturation took place during 7 months. With a minimum logging diameter of 90 cm, the recovery rate computed over a 30-year period was greater than 100%. Selective logging harvested only 12.1% of the total number of seed trees and had little influence on the species biological parameters. Securing sufficient regeneration as a post-logging action is probably the most important consideration for achieving long-term sustainability. Implications for the conservation status of the species are discussed at the regional level. [less ▲]

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See detailLes équations allométriques pantropicales sont-elles valides en Afrique centrale
Fayolle, Adeline ULg; Ernst, Gaëtan; Bouissou, Christina et al

Scientific conference (2012, October 24)

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See detailContribution of new radiocarbon dates to track the impact of past anthropogenic disturbances on current vegetation in Central Africa
Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; Gillet, Jean-François; Bourland, Nils ULg et al

Poster (2012, July)

Introduction: Understanding current Central Africa vegetation patterns faces the scarcity of data about their past evolution. However, a growing hypothesis suggests that past human activities could have ... [more ▼]

Introduction: Understanding current Central Africa vegetation patterns faces the scarcity of data about their past evolution. However, a growing hypothesis suggests that past human activities could have had a substantial influence on vegetation (Van Gemerden et al. 2003, Brncic et al. 2009). Indeed, by creating large openings (fig. 1), they might have triggered the expansion of light-demanding species currently suffering from a lack of regeneration. This lack of saplings could have been caused by the change in land use since colonization with the sedentarization of shifting cultivators. Aim of the study: To investigate the potential relationship between past anthropogenic disturbances and present vegetation. Material & methods: Fieldworks combining anthracological and ecological approaches have been undertaken in Northern Congo and South-Eastern Cameroon (fig. 2). We excavated thirty 150-200 cm deep pits under different forest covers and vegetation types to identify evidences of past human presence (i.e potsherds, fig. 3, slags from metallurgy, anthropogenic pieces of charcoals and anthropophilous charred seeds). Charcoals and seeds (oil palm Elaeis guineensis, fig. 4, Canarium schweinfurthii) in combination with artifacts have been dated. Results: A set of 38 new radiocarbon dates ranging from 15,200 cal BP to present time have been obtained. They confirm the existence of important past fire events in a region where natural ones seldom occur. Together with artifacts, our findings support the few already available dates documenting evidences of past human activities in Central African rainforests. On the 36 most recent dates (fig. 5), the majority belongs to the 2,300-1,400 cal BP period (61%). The whole semi-deciduous forest zone is concerned by this period of intense disturbances with a high rate of fragmentation. It follows the last great arid phase ca. 2,500 cal BP and might be linked to the iron workers expansion. Another pool of dates between 650 and 250 cal BP (33%) associated with potsherds might be correlated to a dry phase contemporary to the Little Ice Age in Europe. That last group of dates points out the potential positive impact of anthropogenic disturbances connected to a dry climatic event on light-demanding species populations. Indeed, this is consistent with the fact that most of current light-demanding trees have a higher number of stems around 100 cm dbh. Conclusion: Our multidisciplinary approach allowed new insights into the link between human history and vegetation dynamics in Central Africa. Further investigations should be conducted to go deeper into the understanding of the evolution of Central African rainforests and to improve the management of currently logged light-demanding species resulting from the LIA period. Thirty new dates from sixteen soil profiles are forthcoming. References: Brncic T., Willis M., K. J., Harris D. J., Telfer M. W. & Bailey M. W. 2009. Fire and climate change impacts on lowland forest composition in northern Congo during the last 2580 years from palaeoecological analyses of a seasonally flooded swamp. The Holocene, 19, 79-89. Reimer P. J., Baillie M. G. L., Bard E., Bayliss A., Beck J. W., Blackwell P. G., Bronk Ramsey C., Buck C. E., Burr G. S., Edwards R. L., Friedrich M., Grootes P. M., Guilderson T. P., Hajdas I., Heaton T. J., Hogg A. G., Hughen K. A., Kaiser K. F., Kromer B., McCormac F. G., Manning S. W., Reimer R. W., Richards D. A., Southon J.R., Talamo S., Turney C. S. M., van der Plicht J., & Weyhenmeyer, C. E. 2009. IntCal09 and Marine09 radiocarbon age calibration curves, 0-50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon, 51(4), 1111-1150. Van Gemerden B. S., Olff H., Parren M. P. E, Bongers F. 2003. The pristine rain forest? Remnants of historical human impacts on current tree species composition and diversity. Journal of Biogeography, 30, 1381-1390. [less ▲]

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See detailCurrent Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae) patches in southeastern Cameroon: remnants of a long and rich Human-rainforest relationship?
Bourland, Nils ULg; Cerisier, François; Livingstone Smith, Alexandre et al

Poster (2012, June 23)

Pericopsis elata is one of the most valuable African timber species. This IUCN Red Listed tree suffers from a lack of regeneration, thus its current presence provokes questioning. Our work aimed at ... [more ▼]

Pericopsis elata is one of the most valuable African timber species. This IUCN Red Listed tree suffers from a lack of regeneration, thus its current presence provokes questioning. Our work aimed at understanding its origins so as to help securing its future. This study, lead away from engineering works, was conducted in four different sites located within the natural distribution area of the species and taking into account the different growing conditions were the species occurs. Our observations are based on an analysis of charcoal elements and pottery fragments discovered in subsurface layers of soils as well as current botanical and pedological surveys. Evidence of past human activities we found led to the assumption that this part of the Congo Basin was much more inhabited than previously thought. Some of the results obtained for P. elata could apply for other long lived light demanding species growing in the same environment [less ▲]

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See detailForest anomalies and human occupation in Central Africa during the last two millennia
Livingstone Smith, Alexandre; Beeckman, Hans; Cerisier, François et al

Conference (2012, June 23)

Central African rainforests are no longer considered as pristine, but as the outcome of a long history of changes due mainly to climatic variation. For the later part of the Holocene it has been ... [more ▼]

Central African rainforests are no longer considered as pristine, but as the outcome of a long history of changes due mainly to climatic variation. For the later part of the Holocene it has been hypothesised that climate changes together with human activities triggered modifications in terms of distribution and botanical composition. While developing a research project to explore the mechanisms of forest change, new research avenues for the archaeology of rainforests became apparent. In this paper, we outline the results of this approach, implemented on a forest concession (Cameroon). We introduce our methodology based on the analysis of botanical inventories (focused on large trees of human linked species and light demanding species), coupled to systematic core boring and test pits. A sampling strategy for the collection of charcoal and its identification is developed and archaeological remains found in association are analyzed at the Royal Museum for Central Africa. [less ▲]

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See detailPericopsis elata (Harms) Meeuwen in Cameroon: Ecological Check-up of an Endangered Timber Species
Bourland, Nils ULg; Kouadio, Yao Lambert; Lejeune, Philippe ULg et al

Poster (2012, June 20)

Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae – assamela, afrormosia, kokrodua) is a high valued timber species of the moist semi deciduous African forests. Because of logging which started more than 50 years ago, it is ... [more ▼]

Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae – assamela, afrormosia, kokrodua) is a high valued timber species of the moist semi deciduous African forests. Because of logging which started more than 50 years ago, it is considered as threatened and included on both IUCN Red List and CITES Appendix II. Nevertheless, there is still little information available on the species ecology: essential biological parameters controlling its population dynamics remain unknown. Our study first aims at improving the knowledge of its main ecological parameters, then at assessing the impact of selective logging on its populations in a forest management unit in Cameroon (ca 120,000 ha). After inventorying the species (sampling rate of 1.2%), mortality and growth were assessed over continuous 5 and 2-year periods in unlogged and logged areas, respectively. Phenology was monitored in the unlogged forest during 5 years (leaf shedding and flushing, flowering, ripe and unripe fruiting). The population structure followed a bell-shaped curve. Mean annual diameter increments in both environments did not differ significantly between unlogged and logged areas (0.29±0.06 0.31±0.04 cm for unlogged and logged areas, respectively). P. elata is a deciduous species that flowers at the end of the main dry season (Marsh-April). The minimum reproduction and effective flowering diameters were, respectively, 32 and 37 cm. Fruit maturation took place during 7 months (the seed rain occurs in December-January), but all unripe fruits abort 3 years out of 5. With a minimum logging diameter of 90 cm, the recovery rate computed over a 30-year period was greater than 100%. Selective logging harvested only 12.1% of the total number of seed trees and had little influence on the species biological parameters. Securing sufficient regeneration as a post-logging action is probably the most important consideration for achieving long-term sustainability. [less ▲]

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See detailDéfinition du profil écologique de l'azobé, Lophira alata, une espèce ligneuse africaine de grande importance : synthèse bibliographique et perspectives pour des recherches futures
Biwole, Achille ULg; Bourland, Nils ULg; Daïnou, Kasso ULg et al

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment [=BASE] (2012), 16(2), 217-228

Over two decades, labors made in order to promote sustainable management of African tropical forests are tackled to the lack of knowledge about this complex ecosystem. Ecological parameters of timber ... [more ▼]

Over two decades, labors made in order to promote sustainable management of African tropical forests are tackled to the lack of knowledge about this complex ecosystem. Ecological parameters of timber species are no more studied, this complicates long-term sustainable forest management. This literature review related to the ecology and silviculture of ekki, Lophira alata Banks ex C.F.Gaertn. (Ochnaceae), a main African timber species recorded as “vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List, will serve as a study’s case. The planned literature review reveals the doubt about its taxonomy, as well as the lack of understanding concerning its reproductive biology, growth conditions, population dynamics parameters, and the spatial distribution of its genetic diversity. The deficiency of knowledge about its ecological needs and the factors which have historically influenced its population dynamics explain why most silvicultural trails provide hazardous and uncertain results. Remedying these gaps in order to improve its ecological characterization and innovative silvicultural trails, would be a significant contribution to the sustainable management of its populations. [less ▲]

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See detailHow pristine is the Congo Basin forest ? Some answers from Erythrophleum spp. (Caesalpiniaceae) and Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae) natural stands in southeastern Cameroon
Bourland, Nils ULg; Livingstone Smith, Alexandre; Guion, Hélène ULg et al

Poster (2012, March 01)

Erythrophleum spp. and Pericopsis elata are two important African timber taxa suffering from regeneration problems. Those light demanding trees could have established in openings made by past human ... [more ▼]

Erythrophleum spp. and Pericopsis elata are two important African timber taxa suffering from regeneration problems. Those light demanding trees could have established in openings made by past human activities (mainly slash-and-burn cultivation). Our study aimed at verifying this assumption in a 340,000 ha forest concession in southeastern Cameroon. Anthracological excavations were made alongside transects opened in patches where those taxa occur as well as the surrounding environment. Numerous charcoal elements and some pottery fragments were found in excavated soils in all studied sites. Charcoals and pieces of pottery were found within the first 100 and 50 cm of soil, respectively. According to radiocarbon dating conducted on charcoals and burnt seeds, fires occurred between 2,150 to 195 years BP. This finding was consistent with the analysis of archaeological materials decoration techniques. Our results revealed intense past anthropological activities in this area, seriously questioning the assumption of a pristine Congo Basin [less ▲]

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See detailCould current Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae) patches in southeastern Cameroon be reasonably linked to past anthropogenic activities ?
Bourland, Nils ULg; Cerisier, François ULg; Livingstone Smith, Alexandre et al

Poster (2012, March 01)

Pericopsis elata is one of the most valuable African timber species. This IUCN Red Listed tree suffers from a lack of regeneration, thus its current presence provokes questioning. Our work aimed at ... [more ▼]

Pericopsis elata is one of the most valuable African timber species. This IUCN Red Listed tree suffers from a lack of regeneration, thus its current presence provokes questioning. Our work aimed at understanding its origins so as to help securing its future. This study, lead away from engineering works, was conducted in four different sites located within the natural distribution area of the species and took into account the different growing conditions were the species occurs. Our observations were based on an analysis of charcoal elements and pottery fragments discovered in subsurface layers of soils as well as on current botanical and pedological surveys. Discovered evidence of past human activities led to the assumption that this part of the Congo Basin was much more inhabited than previously thought. Some of the results obtained for P. elata could apply for other long lived light demanding species growing in the same environment. [less ▲]

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See detailDéfinition du profil écologique de l'azobé (Lophira alata Banks ex Gaertn F., Ochnaceae) dans les forêts sempervirentes du Cameroun
Biwole, Achille ULg; Bourland, Nils ULg; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg

Poster (2012, February 08)

Ekki or L. alata is a commercial timber species in Guinea-Congolian region considered vulnerable (IUCN, 2011). Indeed, its population structure shows a severe lack of regeneration in some rainforests ... [more ▼]

Ekki or L. alata is a commercial timber species in Guinea-Congolian region considered vulnerable (IUCN, 2011). Indeed, its population structure shows a severe lack of regeneration in some rainforests (Palla et al., 2002). Moreover, in logging areas, insufficient knowledge about its ecological profile limits any reliable modeling of population dynamics on a long term. Consequently, original research, to improve its ecological characterization to ensure its sustainable management is conducted in moist evergreen forest in southern Cameroon. First results on population dynamics of this species show, in plots study of recruitment, a population without major deficit regeneration. On its silvicultural ability, although that estimated on plantations on parks under 2 years old, the trends of growth (ca 30 and 0.5 cm / year respectively in height and diameter) and mortality (3, 3% / year) suggest a positive perspective. Current work in relation to other topics of research should provide further insights into its ecological profile in the evergreen forests of Cameroon. [less ▲]

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See detailNature+ asbl - Rapport d'activités 2011
Federspiel, Michèle; Bourland, Nils ULg; Daïnou, Kasso ULg et al

Report (2012)

En 2011, Nature+ a rencontré ses missions, notamment : en mettant en oeuvre deux projets de foresterie communautaire financés par des bailleurs internationaux ; en participant à la gestion durable de près ... [more ▼]

En 2011, Nature+ a rencontré ses missions, notamment : en mettant en oeuvre deux projets de foresterie communautaire financés par des bailleurs internationaux ; en participant à la gestion durable de près de 2 millions d’hectares de forêts denses humides tropicales grâce à nos collaborations avec des sociétés forestières engagées dans les processus de certification FSC ; en accueillant dans nos divers projets 12 étudiants en fin de cursus universitaire ainsi que 8 doctorants. 7 universités différentes ont ainsi reçu un appui administratif, technique et scientifique de Nature+. [less ▲]

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See detailEcology and management of Pericopsis elata (Harms) Meeuwen (Fabaceae) populations: a review
Bourland, Nils ULg; Kouadio, Yao Lambert; Fétéké, Fousséni et al

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment [=BASE] (2012), 16(4), 486-498

Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae) is a valuable timber species occurring in moist semi-deciduous African forests. While it is at present substantially reduced, the tree’s natural distribution previously covered ... [more ▼]

Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae) is a valuable timber species occurring in moist semi-deciduous African forests. While it is at present substantially reduced, the tree’s natural distribution previously covered several distinct areas from Côte d’Ivoire to the Democratic Republic of Congo. This species has been logged since the second half of the 20th century. Because it suffers from a lack of regeneration, P. elata is now included in CITES Appendix II and is recorded as “Endangered A1cd” on the IUCN Red List. As with other long-lived light-demanding species, the survival of P. elata may have been favored by important disturbances that occurred in the Congo Basin during the last millennia. While both international trade and industrial uses of the wood of P. elata are well documented, information about its ecology are very sparse or contradictory, and even absent in some cases (e.g., regarding its effective flowering diameter). Furthermore, data describing the management of P. elata are scarce, including potential solutions to compensate for the deficit of natural regeneration. Along the same lines, genetic studies still remain at an early stage and only vague hypotheses have been offered to explain the origins of the tree’s populations. We emphasize the need for new research on those topics. Further studies would be useful in deciding whether P. elata populations can continue to be logged without the species being threatened with extinction. Finally, such research needs to target effective and inexpensive management procedures that could secure the future of the species in a logging context. [less ▲]

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See detailSylviculture in logging gaps of a Central African rainforest : first synthesis from tests with 11 timber tree species
Daïnou, Kasso ULg; Cerisier, Benjamin; Bourland, Nils ULg et al

in CIRAD Montpellier (Ed.) IUFRO International Conference , Research Priorities in Tropical Silviculture : Towards New Paradigms ?: Abstracts (2011, November 15)

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See detailSoil seed bank characteristics in Cameroonian rainforests and implications for post-logging recovery
Daïnou, Kasso ULg; Bauduin, Aline ULg; Bourland, Nils ULg et al

in Ecological Engineering (2011), 37(10), 1499-1506

The soil seed bank is considered as an important component for resilience of climacic vegetation. No investigation has ever been conducted in Central African rainforests regarding this topic. We studied ... [more ▼]

The soil seed bank is considered as an important component for resilience of climacic vegetation. No investigation has ever been conducted in Central African rainforests regarding this topic. We studied the soil seed bank characteristics in relation to the standing vegetation in three Cameroonian forest zones with different disturbance regimes. There was no significant difference between sites in terms of density of the seed bank. But dissimilarities of the floristic compositions between sites were high. Overall, seeds came from 43 species including three commercial tree species. Whereas the seedlings emerging from soil samples mostly came from weedy and short-lived pioneer species, climax species predominated in the extant vegetation, leading to a very weak similarity between soil seed flora and the surrounding vegetation. Canopy openness could significantly affect the species richness of soil seed stocks but not the seed density. These results show that the soil seed bank contribution to the resilience of mature tropical forests is low. In particular, very few timber tree species could benefit from soil seed stocks for their regeneration. Therefore, the development of enrichment techniques including use of the soil seed bank as a source of tree regeneration in such a context would be irrelevant. [less ▲]

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