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Picture of Sustainable Management of Big-leaf Mahogany in the Brazilian Amazon
IITF-2011-06
Sustainable Management of Big-leaf Mahogany in the Brazilian Amazon

Title: What loggers leave behind: Impacts on big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) commercial populations and potential for post-logging recovery in the Brazilian Amazon.

Author: Grogan, James; Jennings, Stephen B.; Landis, R. Matthew; Schulze, Mark; Baima, Anadilza M.V.; do Carmo A. Lopes J.,; Norghauer, Julian M.; Oliveira, L. Rogé rio,; Pantoja, Frank; Pinto, Diane; Silva, Jose Natalino M.; Vidal, Edson; Zimmerman, Barbara L.;

Date: 2008

Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 255: 269–281

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: The sustainability of current harvest practices for high-value Meliaceae can be assessed by quantifying logging intensity and projecting growth and survival by post-logging populations over anticipated intervals between harvests. From 100%-area inventories of big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) covering 204 ha or more at eight logged and unlogged forest sites across southern Brazilian Amazonia, we report generally higher landscape-scale densities and smaller population-level mean diameters in eastern forests compared to western forests, where most commercial stocks survive. Density of trees >=20 cm diameter varied by two orders of magnitude and peaked at 1.17 ha-1. Size class frequency distributions appeared unimodal at two high-density sites, but were essentially amodal or flat elsewhere; diameter increment patterns indicate that populations were multi- or all-aged. At two high-density sites, conventional logging removed 93.95% of commercial trees (>=45 cm diameter at the time of logging), illegally eliminated 31.47% of sub-merchantable trees, and targeted trees as small as 20 cm diameter. Projected recovery by commercial stems during 30 years after conventional logging represented 9.9.37.5% of initial densities and was highly dependent on initial logging intensity and size class frequency distributions of commercial trees. We simulated post-logging recovery over the same period at all sites according to the 2003 regulatory framework for mahogany in Brazil, which raised the minimum diameter cutting limit to 60 cm and requires retention during the first harvest of 20% of commercial-sized trees. Recovery during 30 years ranged from approximately 0 to 31% over 20% retention densities at seven of eight sites. At only one site where sub-merchantable trees dominated the population did the simulated density of harvestable stems after 30 years exceed initial commercial densities. These results indicate that 80% harvest intensity will not be sustainable over multiple cutting cycles for most populations without silvicultural interventions ensuring establishment and long-term growth of artificial regeneration to augment depleted natural stocks, including repeated tending of outplanted seedlings. Without improved harvest protocols for mahogany in Brazil as explored in this paper, future commercial supplies of this species as well as other high-value tropical timbers are endangered. Rapid changes in the timber industry and land-use in the Amazon are also significant challenges to sustainable management of mahogany.

Keywords: Diameter increment, Forest inventory, Forest legislation, Logging impacts, Mahogany, Simulated population recovery, Sustainable forest management

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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Grogan, James; Jennings, Stephen B.; Landis, R. Matthew; Schulze, Mark; Baima, Anadilza M.V.; do Carmo A. Lopes J.; Norghauer, Julian M.; Oliveira, L. Rogério; Pantoja, Frank; Pinto, Diane; Silva, Jose Natalino M.;Vidal, Edson;Zimmerman, Barbara L. 2008. What loggers leave behind: Impacts on big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) commercial populations and potential for post-logging recovery in the Brazilian Amazon. Forest Ecology and Management. 255: 269–281

 


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