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Grogan J.,Yale University | Grogan J.,Instituto do Homem e Meio Ambiente da Amazonia Imazon | Schulze M.,Oregon State University | Schulze M.,Instituto Floresta Tropical IFT | Schulze M.,University of Florida
New Forests

Big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) trees are often retained in agricultural fields and pastures for seed and timber production after selective logging and forest clearing in the Brazilian Amazon. At a forest management site in southeast Pará, we censused trees growing scattered across a large open clearing after forest removal and in heavily disturbed forest after selective logging and canopy thinning for survival, stem diameter growth, fruit production, and date of dry season flowering initiation annually during 1997-2003. Trees in the open clearing died at faster rates, grew more slowly, produced fewer fruit, and initiated flowering earlier, on average, than trees in logged and thinned forest during this period. The principal cause of mortality and stem damage in both environments was dry season groundfires. Mahogany trees in logged and thinned forest at the study site grew faster than mahogany trees at a selectively logged but otherwise undisturbed closed-canopy forest site in this region during the same period. This was likely due to vine elimination by groundfires, increased crown exposure after canopy thinning, and soil nutrient inputs due to groundfires. Without effective regulation and control of anthropogenic fires, attempts to manage remnant mahogany trees for future timber yields or to restore commercially viable populations in this region may prove futile. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Source

Macpherson A.J.,University of Florida | Carter D.R.,University of Florida | Schulze M.D.,Oregon State University | Vidal E.,University of Sao Paulo | Lentini M.W.,Instituto Floresta Tropical IFT
Land Use Policy

Although the regulations are imperfectly enforced, logging firms in the Brazilian Amazon are subject to forest management regulations intended to reduce environmental damage and protect future forest productivity. Additionally, voluntary best practices firms adopt to achieve environmental performance that exceed regulatory requirements are largely limited to reduced impact logging (RIL) systems that reduce harvest damage relative to conventional logging systems used by a large majority of firms in the region. Existing regulations combined with best practices may not be adequate to ensure sustained yields. This inadequacy is an important issue as Brazil implements an ambitious program of forest concessions on public lands. We analyze the profitability and environmental outcomes of best logging practices and proposed sustainability requirements. We propose two operational definitions of sustainability (the first focusing on sustaining stand-level timber volumes and the other focusing on sustaining species-level volumes within the stand) based on sustaining timber inventories across cutting cycles rather than on sustaining overall harvest yields. RIL is shown to be profitable for loggers and increase the timber available for future harvests. While volume predicted to be available for the second and third harvests are significantly lower than the available timber in the unlogged forest, the second and third harvests are projected to be profitable and have the potential for sustainability despite high opportunity costs. However, as harvesting is repeated into the future, results show the composition of the harvest shifts from higher-value shade-tolerant and emergent species toward a greater reliance on longer-lived, lower-value pioneer species. This shift may create pressure to expand the forest base under management in order to continue to supply high-value species or increase the risk of timber trespass in conservation units and areas under community or indigenous management. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Grogan J.,Yale University | Grogan J.,Instituto do Homem e Meio Ambiente da Amazonia Imazon | Blundell A.G.,Center for Applied Biodiversity Science | Landis R.M.,Middlebury College | And 7 more authors.
Conservation Letters

Consumer demand for the premier neotropical luxury timber, big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), has driven boom-and-bust logging cycles for centuries, depleting local and regional supplies from Mexico to Bolivia. We revise the standard historic range map for mahogany in South America and estimate the extent to which commercial stocks have been depleted using satellite data, expert surveys, and sawmill processing center data from Brazil. We estimate an historic range of 278 million hectares spanning Venezuela to Bolivia, 57% of this in Brazil. Approximately 58 million hectares (21%) of mahogany's historic range had been lost to forest conversion by 2001. Commercial populations had been logged from at least 125 million more hectares, reducing the commercial range to 94 million hectares (34% of historic). Surviving stocks are extremely low-density populations in remote regions representing a smaller fraction of historic stocks than expected based on estimated current commercial range. Our method could advance international policy debates such as listing proposals for CITES Appendices by clarifying the commercial and conservation status of high-value timber species similar to mahogany about which little information is available. The fate of remaining mahogany stocks in South America will depend on transforming current forest management practices into sustainable production systems. ©2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.. Source

Grogan J.,Yale University | Grogan J.,Instituto Floresta Tropical IFT | Schulze M.,Instituto Floresta Tropical IFT | Schulze M.,University of Florida | Schulze M.,Oregon State University

Understanding tree growth in response to rainfall distribution is critical to predicting forest and species population responses to climate change. We investigated inter-annual and seasonal variation in stem diameter by three emergent tree species in a seasonally dry tropical forest in southeast Pará, Brazil. Annual diameter growth rates by Swietenia macrophylla demonstrated strong positive correlation with annual rainfall totals during 1997-2009; Hymenaea courbaril growth rates demonstrated weak positive correlation, whereas Parkia pendula exhibited weak negative correlation. For both Swietenia and Hymenaea, annual diameter growth rates correlated positively and significantly with rainfall totals during the first 6 mo of the growing year (July to December). Vernier dendrometer bands monitored at 4-wk intervals during 3-5 yr confirmed strong seasonal effects on stem diameter expansion. Individuals of all three species expanded in unison during wet season months and were static or even contracted during dry season months. Stems of the deciduous Swietenia contracted as crowns were shed during the early dry season, expanded slightly as new crowns were flushed, and then contracted further during 3-5 wk flowering periods in the late dry season by newly mature crowns. The three species' physiographic distribution patterns at the study site may partially underlie observed differences in annual and seasonal growth. With most global circulation models predicting conditions becoming gradually drier in southeast Amazonia over the coming decades, species such as Swietenia that perform best on the 'wet end' of current conditions may experience reduced growth rates. However, population viability will not necessarily be threatened if life history and ecophysiological responses to changing conditions are compensatory. © 2011 by The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation. Source

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