Does climber cutting reduce felling damage in southern Cameroon?

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Forest Ecology and Management


In the lowland rain forest in southern Cameroon, an experiment was set-up to test whether pre-felling climber cutting could reduce logging damage. The abundance of lianas in the forest and their resprouting capacity after cutting was assessed. Logging damage was considered as tree mortality and tree damage in the felling gaps and the sizes of the created gaps after falling.Lianas were very abundant: on average nearly 5000 individuals (at breast height) of which over 100 large ones (greater than or equal to5 cm DBH) per ha. Some 70% of monitored lianas had died 22 months after cutting. Resprouting capacity was high but variable among species. Felling gapsizes (average 550 m(2) per felled tree), tree mortality (12 trees per felled tree) and damage (20 trees per felled tree) were not significantly affected by pre-felling climber cutting. A minority of the damage was severe. Smaller trees were most prune to destruction and severe damage. The results show that pre-felling climber cutting has no significant effect on resulting gapsizes, tree mortality and damage levels. We conclude that climber cutting before a logging operation does not contribute to damage reductions at the felling sites in African moist forests where the logging intensity is extremely low. The average harvest level in the study area was one tree or about 13 m(3) ha(-1). We suggest that climber cutting should be applied on a tree-by-tree basis only, and after a careful judgement of the tree's liana load.