Tree communities of different aged logged areas in an Afrotropical rainforest
Owiny, Arthur A
Malinga, Geoffrey M.
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Predicting the recovery processes in tree communities after logging is critical when developing conservation strategies. We assessed the patterns in tree communities in logged and primary forests in Kibale National Park, Uganda, representing 9- to 19-year-old clear-cuts of former conifer plantations, 42- to 43-year-old logged forests and primary forests. Species density and diversity were lower and dominance higher in the 9- to 19-year-old forests compared to the 42- to 43-year-old forests or primary forests. The tree species density, diversity and dominance of 42- to 43-year-old forests did not differ significantly from primary forests. However, they had a lower stem density, and higher cover of Acanthus pubescens, a shrub known to arrest the succession in Kibale. The tree community compositions of 9- to 19-year-old, 42- to 43-year-old and primary forests differed from each other. A large group of tree species (21) were primary forest indicators, that is, they were either missing or relatively rare in logged forests. The results of this study show that even after four decades of natural recovery, logged Afrotropical forests can still be distinguished from primary forests in their tree community compositions, emphasizing the slow community recovery and the important role of primary forests when preserving the tree communities in tropical rainforests.