Impacts of harvesting intensity on tree taxonomic diversity, structural diversity, population structure, and stability in a West African mangrove forest

Understanding the impacts of wood harvesting intensity on the diversity and structure of ecosystems such as mangroves is essential for defining actions for their sustainable management. We compared tree taxonomic diversity, structural diversity and dominance patterns, density, growth characteristics, size class distribution-SCD and stand stability in West African mangroves subject to low vs. high wood harvesting intensity. Data on tree species identity, total height, diameter (dbh), and conditions (logged, topped or pruned) were collected from ten mangrove sites per harvesting intensity. We found seven species of which two true mangroves species (Rhizophora racemose and Avicennia germinans) that were dominant across all sites. As expected, there were significantly 3–4, 3–7, and 2–4 times more logged, topped and pruned trees respectively in high-harvesting sites than in low- harvesting sites. Taxonomic diversity was less affected than structural diversity (dbh and heightbased diversity metrics). Tree density was significantly 1.3–5 times higher in low-harvesting sites than in high-harvesting sites for the whole stand and each of the dominant species. Total regeneration density was also low in high-harvesting sites. However, regeneration density was relatively higher in high-harvesting sites for R. racemosa contrary to A. germinans. Trees were also significantly smaller and shorter in high-harvesting sites. The SCD indicated inverse J-shaped distributions, irrespective of the harvesting intensity and showed that tree harvesting targeted mostly dbh classes 10–30 cm. The density of this class was 2.6–6.2 times lower in high-harvesting sites. This study provides important information on impacts of wood harvesting in a marginally studied mangroves’ area.
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West Africa
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