Present-day central African forest is a legacy of the 19th century human history

Morin-Rivat Julie, Fayolle Adeline, Favier Charly, Bremond Laurent, Gourlet-Fleury Sylvie, Bayol Nicolas, Lejeune Philippe, Beeckman Hans, Doucet Jean-Louis. 2017. Present-day central African forest is a legacy of the 19th century human history. eLife, 6:e20343, 18 p.

Journal article ; Article de recherche ; Article de revue à facteur d'impact
Published version - Anglais
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Quartile : Outlier, Sujet : BIOLOGY

Abstract : The populations of light-demanding trees that dominate the canopy of central African forests are now aging. Here, we show that the lack of regeneration of these populations began ca. 165 ya (around 1850) after major anthropogenic disturbances ceased. Since 1885, less itinerancy and disturbance in the forest has occurred because the colonial administrations concentrated people and villages along the primary communication axes. Local populations formerly gardened the forest by creating scattered openings, which were sufficiently large for the establishment of light-demanding trees. Currently, common logging operations do not create suitable openings for the regeneration of these species, whereas deforestation degrades landscapes. Using an interdisciplinary approach, which included paleoecological, archaeological, historical, and dendrological data, we highlight the long-term history of human activities across central African forests and assess the contribution of these activities to present-day forest structure and composition. The conclusions of this sobering analysis present challenges to current silvicultural practices and to those of the future. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Forêt, forêt tropicale, Aménagement forestier, Structure du peuplement, Composition botanique, Régénération naturelle, Abattage d'arbres, Déboisement, Écologie, Écosystème forestier, Impact sur l'environnement, Production forestière, Histoire naturelle, Dendrométrie, Dynamique des populations, Sociologie rurale, Paléobotanique

Mots-clés géographiques Agrovoc : Afrique centrale

Mots-clés complémentaires : Paléoenvironnement

Classification Agris : K01 - Forestry - General aspects
F40 - Plant ecology
K10 - Forestry production
P01 - Nature conservation and land resources
E50 - Rural sociology

Champ stratégique Cirad : Axe 6 (2014-2018) - Sociétés, natures et territoires

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Morin-Rivat Julie, Université de Liège (BEL)
  • Fayolle Adeline, Université de Liège (BEL)
  • Favier Charly, UM2 (FRA)
  • Bremond Laurent, UM2 (FRA)
  • Gourlet-Fleury Sylvie, CIRAD-ES-UPR BSef (FRA) ORCID: 0000-0002-1136-4307
  • Bayol Nicolas, Forêt ressources management (FRA)
  • Lejeune Philippe, Université de Liège (BEL)
  • Beeckman Hans, Royal Museum for Central Africa (BEL)
  • Doucet Jean-Louis, Université de Liège (BEL)

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

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