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Nine decades of regulating timber harvest from forest reserves and the status of residual forests in Ghana

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This paper assess the effectiveness of forest regulations applied between 1900 and 1990 in Ghana's permanent forest reserves at ensuring a future crop of marketable trees by relating forest regulation to historical data on timber exploitation and forest inventory data. During the study period, the commercial species list steadily increased from 3 to 66 species, felling diameter limits and cutting cycles changed several times. Average densities of commercial stems in residual forests in 1989 followed a negative exponential curve, but with lower than expected recruitment into the 4060 cm dbh class and relatively high densities of smaller sized trees. At the species level, heavily exploited species and light demanding pioneer species deviated from a balanced distribution. Patterns in exploitation, either in number of species or total stems removed, were unrelated to the application of harvesting regulations, milling capacity and political instability may have played a larger role. Results suggest that the harvest regulations, as applied in the past and those in place, are unlikely to sustain timber production.

Keywords: Ghana; forest regulation; minimum felling diameters; selective logging; tropical forest

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Forestry Research Institute of Ghana, University PO Box 63, Kumasi, Ghana., 2: School of Biological Sciences, Department of Plant and Soil Science, University of Aberdeen 23 St Machar Drive, Aberdeen, AB24 3UU, UK.

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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