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Early ecological changes associated with logging in an Amazon floodplain

by Macedo, D.S; Anderson, A.B.
Publisher: 1993Subject(s): VIROLA SURINAMENSIS | APROVECHAMIENTO FORESTAL | VOLUMEN | DAÑOS | HUMEDALES | AMAZONIA | BRASIL | VOLUME | AMAZONIA | BRAZIL | VOLUME | AMAZONIE | BRESIL In: Biotropica (EUA) v. 25(2) p. 151-163Summary: Recent studies in Amazonia suggest that the ecological impacts of selective logging are minimal in floodplain areas where mechanized wood extraction is unfeasible. Yet demand for a wider range of tropical timber products is transforming forest exploitation in the Amazon floodplain. This paper examines early ecological changes associated with logging of virola (Virola surinamensis (Rol.) Warb.), an important export timber occurring in floodplain forests of the Amazon estuary. In a permanently inundated swamp forest characterized by an extraordinarily high volumen of virola (243 m3 per ha), manual logging over a 5-yr period felled 90 percent of the virola stand and removed 145 m3 per ha. Such intensive logging provoked dramatic changes in the virola stand: after the first year of logging, the basal area per ha plummeted from 24.6 m2 to 2.3 m2, and over a 5-yr period, seedling density per m2 declined steadily from 2.3 (year 0) to zero (year 5). Although logging at this intensity is illegal, current forestry policies are ill-conceived and poorly enforced. Sustained use of virola, as well as other timber resources in Amazonia, required limiting wood extraction to specified areas, where sensible forestry policies can be effectively enforced.
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Recent studies in Amazonia suggest that the ecological impacts of selective logging are minimal in floodplain areas where mechanized wood extraction is unfeasible. Yet demand for a wider range of tropical timber products is transforming forest exploitation in the Amazon floodplain. This paper examines early ecological changes associated with logging of virola (Virola surinamensis (Rol.) Warb.), an important export timber occurring in floodplain forests of the Amazon estuary. In a permanently inundated swamp forest characterized by an extraordinarily high volumen of virola (243 m3 per ha), manual logging over a 5-yr period felled 90 percent of the virola stand and removed 145 m3 per ha. Such intensive logging provoked dramatic changes in the virola stand: after the first year of logging, the basal area per ha plummeted from 24.6 m2 to 2.3 m2, and over a 5-yr period, seedling density per m2 declined steadily from 2.3 (year 0) to zero (year 5). Although logging at this intensity is illegal, current forestry policies are ill-conceived and poorly enforced. Sustained use of virola, as well as other timber resources in Amazonia, required limiting wood extraction to specified areas, where sensible forestry policies can be effectively enforced.

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