Makemba R. N., Tosso F., Moupela C., Ligot G., Brostaux Y., Doucet J.-L. [2022] Enrichment of Logging Gaps with High-Value Timber Species: How Far Fertilizer, Biochar and Mammal Predation Affect Performances of Cylicodiscus gabunensis Harms Seedlings. Forests 2022, 13, 1937.

Many commercial species are light-demanding and regenerate with difficulty in natural forest, which compromises the sustainability of logging. Okan, Cylicodiscus gabunensis Harms is one of the most exploited species in Central Africa and its regeneration is deficient in evergreen forest. In forest concessions, the enrichment of logging gaps with commercial species has already been tested but only for a few species. Mixed results have been obtained because the ability of seedlings to emerge from competing vegetation depends on the species, the environment and the silvicultural techniques adopted. This paper aims to determine the performance of C. gabunensis when planted in felling gaps. The impact of fertilization and biochar application on the performance of the seedlings was examined, as well as the role of predation played by large mammals. In 30 gaps, whose light levels were quantified, we planted nine seedlings and applied three treatments (fertilizer and biochar, fertilizer, control). The performance of the seedlings (survival, mammal damage and growth) was followed for 18 months. In another 30 gaps, the preferential consumption of C. gabunensis seedlings was quantified using camera traps. Seedlings had moderate and highly variable growth (1.84 cm to 2.50 cm in height and 0.201 mm to 0.267 mm in basal diameter per month, all treatments combined). Gap size and initial fertilization significantly boosted growth in diameter and survival rate. Elephants preferentially sought out C. gabunensis seedlings and after 18 months they destroyed 35% of the plants. Enrichment of logging gaps with C. gabunensis should therefore be limited to the largest gaps in forests with low elephant densities. Initial fertilization is recommended but not allowed under the sustainable management certification guidelines. We suggest that these standards should be adapted to maximize the chances of success.


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