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See detailExploring ancient charcoal archives in Central Africa
Hubau, Wannes; Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; Van den Bulcke, Jan et al

Conference (2012, July)

Fossil pollen and charcoal fragments are preserved in lake sediments, in forest soils and in ancient human settlements, were they can be accompanied by artifacts. As such, vegetation history is remarkably ... [more ▼]

Fossil pollen and charcoal fragments are preserved in lake sediments, in forest soils and in ancient human settlements, were they can be accompanied by artifacts. As such, vegetation history is remarkably well archived and sometimes closely linked to cultural history. Direct evidence for Central African vegetation history has been mainly derived from pollen analysis, while the charcoal archive remains hardly explored. However, analysis of charred wood remains has proven worthwhile for palaeovegetation reconstructions in temperate and arid regions. One of the main challenges for charcoal identification in tropical regions is species diversity. Therefore we developed and present a transparent charcoal identification protocol within an umbrella database of species names and metadata, compiled from the on-line database of wood-anatomical descriptions (InsideWood), the database of the world’s largest reference collection of Central African wood specimens (RMCA, Tervuren, Belgium) and inventory and indicator species lists. We applied the protocol on radiocarbon dated charcoal collections sampled in the Mayumbe forest (Bas-Congo, DRCongo), in human settlements along the Aruwimi and Lomami rivers (Province Orientale, DRCongo), along the Sangha river (Sangha department, Republic of the Congo) and in Pallisco logging concessions (East Province of Cameroon). First charcoal identification results are promising and sometimes seem to be taxonomically more precise than pollen identification. However, next to opportunities, we also present some pitfalls when exploring ancient charcoal archives. [less ▲]

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See detailCoconut lumber for wood decks (Cocos nucifera L.):decay resistance against Basidiomycetes fungi
Jourez, Benoît ULg; Verheyen, Cécile; Van Acker, Joris

Conference (2011, May)

Since a couple of years, manufactured products of coconut wood for outdoor uses like wood decks have been proposed on the European market. These are presented as an alternative for traditional tropical ... [more ▼]

Since a couple of years, manufactured products of coconut wood for outdoor uses like wood decks have been proposed on the European market. These are presented as an alternative for traditional tropical timbers. In the past, coconut wood was neglected and burned for sanitary reasons and lack of interest at industrial scale. Plantation coconut trees at end of production of copra constitute a renewable resource with high added value. In order to convince the markets, natural durability for outdoor use, without preservative treatment, against wood destroying fungi characteristic of northern temperate regions is a major property that has to be checked. Natural durability of coconut lumber was tested in the laboratory according to the European standard EN 15083-1 against brown (Coniophora puteana) and white (Coriolus versicolor) rot decay basidiomycetes fungi. Beech wood specimens were used as virulence controls. Mass losses were determined after 16 weeks exposure. The results showed that tested coconut wood is very resistant to the brown rot fungus Coniophora puteana and resistant to the white rot fungus Coriolus versicolor. Mass loss and density of tested samples with C. versicolor are inversely related. In addition, the density shows a large variability in the test sample, more than 500 kg / m³. These results confirm that after a selection on density criteria, the natural durability of Coconut lumber is sufficient for outdoor application in use class 3 (based on European standard EN 335 and in line with EN 460). [less ▲]

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