Vine management for reduced-impact logging in eastern Amazonia

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Forest Ecology and Management


The presence of vines interconnecting the canopies of tropical forest trees has been thought to increase the damage to neighbouring trees when a tree is felled during selective logging, resulting in larger canopy gaps and possibly prejudicing future timber harvests. To ameliorate this problem, vine cutting prior to logging has been recommended as a forest management tool. However, at present, little information exists on the economic and ecological impacts of vine cutting on tropical forest management. A study was made of vine management in a 210 ha old-growth evergreen forest stand at Fazenda Sete, SE of Paragominas, Par√°, Brazil. The first objective was to determine vine species composition, stem densities, and the abilities of different vine species to resprout following cutting. Secondly, the degree of tree canopy connectedness due to vines and the amount of damage associated with felling trees with intercrown vine connections was assessed. Finally, the costs of vine cutting were examined as a forest management tool. Vine density differed among forest phases, being 3√ó greater in young building phase forest than in mature forest. Some 63 species of vines were found in 2 (2√ó1400 m) transects and among the most common species, the degree of resprouting following cutting differed significantly. Typically, vines connected each tree to the crowns of 3-9 other trees. Felling trees with many vine connections resulted in canopy gaps that were twice as large as those created in the felling of vine-free trees. Although vine cutting prior to logging can reduce logging damage, it costs on average approximately $16 ha-1. This is equivalent to 8% of the profits of a typical logging-only operation in the region. Reductions in the cost of vine cutting could come with the development of species-specific cutting prescriptions that would reduce the total number of vine stems cut by focusing cutting efforts on aggressive species likely to cause silvicultural problems.

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