The importance of lianas and consequences for forest management in West Africa

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Bioterre: revue internationale scientifique de la vie et de la terre


Lianas are an important but understudied growth form common to most tropical forests. Recent studies have documented the contribution of lianas, both positive and negative, to many aspects of forest ecology. Lianas contribute substantially to animals, and are widely used by local people, mostly for medicine, but also for food, house construction, and artisan work. Lianas also play a substantial role in forest regeneration and such whole-forest processes as transpiration and carbon sequestration. Lianas, however, also compete intensely with trees, and thus many forest managers favour a "blanket liana cutting" management plan, if they address lianas at all. Here, we review the role of lianas in tropical forests, particularly those in West Africa, and we recommend a more reasonable plan for the management of lianas in natural, undisturbed forests.

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