Monitoring tree growth in permanent sample plots

..as researchers and students seek to understand the forest dynamics in the Namibian Baikiaea Pterocarpus woodland

Fifteen years ago Dr Vera De Cauwer, a NUST Senior Lecturer in the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Sciences (DANRS), and a group of NUST students established three permanent sample plots (PSPs) in the Hamoye State Forest (HSF) and the Kanovlei area. A team from NUST recently returned to the HSF to collect data from one of the permanent plots as part of the SavannaCap Project led by the University of Edinburgh

Josef Ndjimba, a Bachelor of Natural Resources Management Honours student tagging a treeTree growth is a crucial biological parameter of forests and consequently of high significance as a forest condition indicator for long-term monitoring. “The PSPs were established to monitor the growth of trees and to attain an understanding of the status of the forest in the north-eastern part of Namibia, given the challenges of fire, illegal logging and other additional disturbances,” Dr De Cauwer said.

The study will allow the development of growth models for hardwood species such as Pterocarpus angolensis (Kiaat), Burkea africana (Sandsering), Terminalia sericea (Silver cluster-leaf ), and Guibourtia coleosperma (False mopane) in Namibian conditions. “The data will be used to understand the population dynamics and species composition of dry woodland savannah, in Namibia,” explained NUST’s Head of DANRS, Dr Jonathan Kamwi.

It was a rather difficult task to locate trees tagged in 2006 since some trees have died and most tags were not present anymore. “All trees tagged in 2006 were enumerated and retagged, to compare with the new data collected. This will help to determine mortality of different tree species in the plot,” a Natural Resources Management Honours student, Job Tjikongo elaborated.

In order to deal with the challenges experienced, regular monitoring of tags and plot boundary markers in the PSP should be done. To prevent the illegal harvesting of trees, the authorities should strengthen internal capacity to conduct regular patrols and law enforcement operations. Furthermore, forestry personnel should be equipped with fire engines to fight wildfires.

Date: 
Friday, November 19, 2021
for Month: 
November, 2021

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