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Bark-stripping of African mahogany trees (Khaya spp.) by cattle in silvopastoral systems in Brazil

Abstract

African mahogany (Khaya spp.) produces high-value wood, and its cultivation is expanding in tropical regions. The silvopastoral system is an alternative method for growing timber trees, but may involve cattle stripping bark from trees, which limits its usefulness. We evaluated cattle bark-stripping rates in two African mahogany species, K. grandifoliola and K. senegalensis, in a silvopastoral system with Guinea grass, Panicum maximum, in South-eastern Brazil. Cattle had free access to plantations of both tree species for 2 weeks in May 2018 and July 2019, when trees were 5 and 6 years old, respectively. In 2018, we found bark-stripping only in K. grandifoliola, but in 2019 both species were bark-stripped. The proportion of bark-stripped trees was higher for K. grandifoliola than for K. senegalensis. Considering both years, 29/155 (18.7%) K. senegalensis trees and 106/153 (69.3%) K. grandifoliola trees had some of their bark-stripped by cattle. Bark-stripped trees had lower trunk diameter growth than unaffected trees, and their growth was affected by the degree of bark-stripping. Some trees were girdled by bark-stripping. These trees dried up, and some of them fell down 1 year after girdling. In 2019, despite the high herbage mass, levels of crude protein in the pasture were very low, which may have stimulated bark-stripping. Although we could not identify the reasons for bark-stripping, we recommend avoiding the use of silvopastoral systems with cattle and African mahogany in times of the year when pasture has a low quality.

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Acknowledgements

We are thankful to the Laboratory of Silviculture and Forest Research (LASPEF/UFSCar) and the Group for Agricultural Studies and Works (GETAP/UFSCar) members who helped with the field data collection.

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Correspondence to Ricardo Augusto Gorne Viani.

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Viani, R.A.G., de Morais, J.P.G., Domene, F. et al. Bark-stripping of African mahogany trees (Khaya spp.) by cattle in silvopastoral systems in Brazil. Agroforest Syst 94, 2385–2390 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-020-00558-7

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Keywords

  • Agroforestry
  • Cattle grazing
  • Pastures
  • Panicum maximum
  • Timber