Enrichment of Central African logged forests with high-value tree species: testing a new approach to regenerating degraded forests.International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21513732.2016.1168868
In natural forests of Central Africa, several studies indicate a dramatic decrease in commercial trees, including species of concern for conservation. Enrichment planting with these species will favor both the long-term recovery of their populations and biodiversity conservation in logged forests. In this study, we analyzed the survival and growth of 23 species in plantations. Fourteen 0.2–1.1 ha mixed species plantations consisting of single-species 15 × 15 m blocks were studied for 5 years in a logging concession of southeastern Cameroon. The plantation design considered both species light requirements and sensitivity to damage by pests. To identify the best species for enrichment planting, we assessed both species performance and plantation costs. We also tested for relationships between species traits and species performance. Mean annual diameter growth increments ranged from 1.67 to 42.9 mm. No significant relationship was found between growth and survival. Herbivory by wild Bovidae was the main cause of mortality and should be carefully considered in rehabilitation efforts. We found a significant negative relationship between wood density and maximum growth rate. The other traits tested were not good predictors of species performance in plantations. The two best-performing species, Triplochiton scleroxylon and Terminalia superba, could reach the minimum cutting diameter during a 30-year cutting cycle. Costs were high and mechanized site preparation is suggested to reduce them. Widespread adoption of such plantations will only occur if financial incentives or national regulations for assuring regeneration are implemented.