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Walhain-Saint-Paul, Belgium

Meunier Q.,Nature Plus asbl | Boldrini S.,Nature Plus asbl | Moumbogou C.,WWF Gabon | Morin A.,Nature Plus asbl | And 2 more authors.
Bois et Forets des Tropiques

Slash-and-burn cultivation is still widespread among the vast majority of ethnolinguistic groups in Gabon, and likely to remain so in the future. It generally occurs within a five-kilometre radius around each settlement. In Gabon, this is the zone earmarked since late 2013 for the country's first community forests. The principles of sustainability underlying the idea of community forestry imply that forest cover should be preserved. However, this can conflict with slash-and-burn farming, which removes a certain amount of timber production potential from the area concerned every year. The simplified management plans for community forestry provide for cropping sequences in order to avoid competition between the two activities on the same land. This provision also acknowledges the important social and economic role of farming in rural areas. Agro-forestry is one of the keys to maintaining family farming together with community forestry. Preserving standing trees of social, economic or environmental value lessens the arduous task of felling while quantitatively reducing the impact of slashing and burning, which is no longer systematic. Introducing useful, rare or protected species or valuable timber trees also increases the economic and heritage value of agricultural lands while meeting the conservation and sustainability requirements of the simplified management plans for community forests. Traditional family farming can thus be maintained and made secure within a legally recognised portion of the forest, together with optimised cultivation techniques. Source

Haurez B.,University of Liege | Dainou K.,Nature Plus asbl | Tagg N.,Center for Research and Conservation | Petre C.-A.,University of Liege | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Tropical Ecology

The identification of seed dispersers and predators is essential to understand the effect of anthropogenic disturbances, and the associated defaunation process, on tropical forest dynamics in Central Africa. In this study, the animals involved in seed predation and dispersal of Dacryodes normandii (Burseraceae), an endozoochorously dispersed tree species endemic to Gabonese forests, were identified in a site in south-east Gabon using two complementary methods: direct observation and camera-trap monitoring of fruit piles. The combined sampling effort (172 h of direct observations and 796 d of camera trapping) led to the identification of six disperser and eight predator species of D. normandii seeds. With high frequency of consumption (88% and 57% of their visits, respectively) and long visit duration (83 and 23 min, respectively), the western lowland gorilla and central chimpanzee were identified as the main dispersers of this species. Seeds passed through the gorilla gut exhibited high germination success (68%). Rodents were identified as predators of D. normandii seeds, potentially displaying rare secondary dispersal through scatter-hoarding. The results of this study highlight the importance of great apes in the seed dispersal of this tree species. © 2015 Cambridge University Press. Source

Bourland N.,University of Liege | Bourland N.,Royal Museum for Central Africa | Cerisier F.,University of Liege | Dainou K.,University of Liege | And 16 more authors.

While most past studies have emphasized the relationships between specific forest stands and edaphic factors, recent observations in Central African moist forests suggested that an increase of slash-and-burn agriculture since 3000-2000 BP (Before Present) could be the main driver of the persistence of light-demanding tree species. In order to examine anthropogenic factors in the persistence of such populations, our study focused on Pericopsis elata, an endangered clustered timber species. We used a multidisciplinary approach comprised of botanical, anthracological and archaeobotanical investigations to compare P. elata patches with surrounding stands of mixed forest vegetation ("out-zones") Charcoal samples were found in both zones, but were significantly more abundant in the soils of patches. Eleven groups of taxa were identified from the charcoals, most of them also present in the current vegetation. Potsherds were detected only inside P. elata patches and at different soil depths, suggesting a long human presence from at least 2150 to 195 BP, as revealed by our charcoal radiocarbon dating. We conclude that current P. elata patches most likely result from shifting cultivation that occurred ca. two centuries ago. The implications of our findings for the dynamics and management of light-demanding tree species are discussed. © 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Source

Akpona T.J.D.,University Abomey Calavi | Akpona H.A.,Ministere de lEnvironnement et de la Protection de la Nature | Djossa B.A.,University of Benin | Savi M.K.,University Abomey Calavi | And 3 more authors.
Agroforestry Systems

Dendrometric parameters such as tree DBH, height, crown diameter and size characteristics of leaves and fruit production collected from Vitellaria paradoxa subsp. growing in three land use types in Pendjari Biosphere Reserve (PBR) were analyzed. A total of 36 circular plots of 15 m diameter were randomly set in the three main land use sites of the PBR. Thus, Shea butter production was estimated from 90 trees (30 trees in each site) selected randomly. Our results revealed a significant difference in trees traits which increase from the park and hunting zone to the farmlands. The highest production of the selected Shea trees was reported from the farmland. Thus, there is high variability between leaf sizes of trees within the sites while for the fruits the greatest variability is between fruits from same tree. The findings of this study showed that the morphological traits and the production of Shea butter trees could be affected by land use systems. © 2015 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht Source

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