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Journal Article

Does degradation from selective logging and illegal activities differently impact forest resources? A case study in Ghana

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Vaglio Laurin, G., Hawthorne, W. D., Chiti, T., Di Paola, A., Cazzolla Gatti, R., Marconi, S., et al. (2016). Does degradation from selective logging and illegal activities differently impact forest resources? A case study in Ghana. iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, 9, 354-362. doi:10.3832/ifor1779-008.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002A-52BE-9
Degradation, a reduction of the ecosystem’s capacity to supply goods and services, is widespread in tropical forests and mainly caused by human disturbance. To maintain the full range of forest ecosystem services and support the development of effective conservation policies, we must understand the overall impact of degradation on different forest resources. This research investigates the response to disturbance of forest structure using several indicators: soil carbon content, arboreal richness and biodiversity, functional composition (guild and wood density), and productivity. We drew upon large field and remote sensing datasets from different forest types in Ghana, characterized by varied protection status, to investigate impacts of selective logging, and of illegal land use and resources extraction, which are the main disturbance causes in West Africa. Results indicate that functional composition and the overall number of species are less affected by degradation, while forest structure, soil carbon content and species abundance are seriously impacted, with resources distribution reflecting the protection level of the areas. Remote sensing analysis showed an increase in productivity in the last three decades, with higher resiliency to change in drier forest types, and stronger productivity correlation with solar radiation in the short dry season. The study region is affected by growing anthropogenic pressure on natural resources and by an increased climate variability: possible interactions of disturbance with climate are also discussed, together with the urgency to reduce degradation in order to preserve the full range of ecosystem functions.