, Volume 186, Issue 1, pp 349-359

The effect of management systems and ecosystem types on bark regeneration in Himatanthus drasticus (Apocynaceae): recommendations for sustainable harvesting

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Abstract

Bark and exudates are widely commercialized non-timber forest products. However, the ecological impacts of the harvesting of these products have seldom been studied. The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship of tree resilience to harvesting intensity in Himatanthus drasticus, a tree that is highly exploited in the Brazilian savanna (Cerrado) for its medicinal latex. Although the traded product is the latex, the traditional harvesting systems involve the removal of the bark of the trees to allow exploitation. A 3-year experiment was conducted in two different Cerrado ecosystems (open savanna and savanna woodland). Trees were debarked at four debarking intensities to simulate the effects of traditional management systems. Measurements of bark growth were taken every 6 months, and quantitative and qualitative indexes of bark regeneration were obtained. The mortality of the debarked trees was low and could not be related to the intensity of harvesting. No signs of attack by fungi or insects were recorded. Compared with other species exploited for bark, H. drasticus is very resilient to harvesting; however, bark regeneration is relatively slow. In both analyzed ecosystems, the regeneration indexes showed higher values in the controls than in the treatments, indicating that 3 years is not sufficient for total recovery of the rhytidome. Bark regeneration occurred primarily by sheet growth and was more rapid in open savanna than in savanna woodland. No differences in the rate of bark recovery were found among management treatments. Based on the results, sustainable harvesting guidelines are suggested for the species.