Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 1375–1397 | Cite as

Impacts of Selective Logging and Agricultural Clearing on Forest Structure, Floristic Composition and Diversity, and Timber Tree Regeneration in the Ituri Forest, Democratic Republic of Congo

Article

Abstract

Mature tropical forests at agricultural frontiers are of global conservation concern as the leading edge of global deforestation. In the Ituri Forest of DRC, as in other tropical forest areas, road creation associated with selective logging results in spontaneous human colonization, leading to the clearing of mature forest for agricultural purposes. Following 1-3 years of cultivation, farmlands are left fallow for periods that may exceed 20 years, resulting in extensive secondary forest areas impacted by both selective logging and swidden agriculture. In this study, we assessed forest structure, tree species composition and diversity and the regeneration of timber trees in secondary forest stands (5-10 and ~40 years old), selectively logged forest stands, and undisturbed forests at two sites in the Ituri region. Stem density was lower in old secondary forests (~40 years old) than in either young secondary or mature forests. Overall tree diversity did not significantly differ between forest types, but the diversity of trees ≥10 cm dbh was substantially lower in young secondary forest stands than in old secondary or mature forests. The species composition of secondary forests differed from that of mature forests, with the dominant Caesalpinoid legume species of mature forests poorly represented in secondary forests. However, in spite of prior logging, the regeneration of high value timber trees such as African mahoganies (Khaya anthotheca and Entandrophragma spp.) was at least 10 times greater in young secondary forests than in mature forests. We argue that, if properly managed and protected, secondary forests, even those impacted by both selective logging and small-scale shifting agriculture, may have high potential conservation and economic value.

Keywords

Forest composition Ituri Forest Secondary forest Selective logging Shifting cultivation Timber tree regeneration Tree diversity 

Abbreviation

CEFRECOF

Centre de Formation et de Recherche en Conservation Forestière

CTFS

Center for Tropical Forest Science

DRC

Democratic Republic of Congo

ENRA

Enzyme Refiners Association

ITTO

International Tropical Timber Organization

NSERC

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ForestryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Centre de Formation et de Recherche en Conservation Forestière (CEFRECOF)Eastern ProvinceDemocratic Republic of Congo

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