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Silvicultural treatments enhance growth rates of future crop trees in a tropical dry forest

Journal Article

Villegas Z; Pena-Claros M; Mostacedo B; Alarcon A; Licona J; Leano C; Pariona W; Choquea U


Forest Ecology and Management



Silvicultural treatments are often needed in selectively logged tropical forest to enhance the growth rates of many commercial tree species and consequently for recovering a larger proportion of the initial volume harvested over the next cutting cycle. The available data in the literature suggest however that the effect of silvicultural treatments on tree growth is smaller in dry forests than in humid forest tree species. In this study we analyze the effect of logging and application of additional silvicultural treatments (liana cutting and girdling of competing trees) on the growth rates of future crop trees (FCTs; i.e. trees of current and potentially commercial timber species with adequate form and apparent growth potential). The study was carried out in a tropical dry forest in Bolivia where a set of 21.25-ha plots were monitored for 4 years post-logging. Plots received one of four treatments that varied in intensity of both logging and silvicultural treatments as follows: normal (reduced-impact) logging; normal logging and low-intensity silviculture; increased logging intensity and high-intensity silviculture; and unlogged controls. The silvicultural treatments applied to FCTs involved liberation from lianas and overtopping trees. Results showed that rates of FCT stem diameter growth increased with light availability logging intensity and intensity of silvicultural treatments and decrease with liana infestation degree. Growth rate increment was larger in the light and intensive silvicultural treatment (22–27%). Long-lived pioneer species showed the strongest response to intensive silviculture (50% increase) followed by total shade- tolerant species (24%) and partial shade-tolerant species (10%). While reduced-impact logging is often not sufficient to guarantee the sustainability of timber yields application of silvicultural treatments that substantially enhanced the growth rates of FCTs will help move the management of these forests closer to the goal of sustained yield.


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