Regeneration capacities of woody species biodiversity and soil properties in Miombo woodland after slash-and-burn agriculture in Mozambique

Regeneration capacities of woody species biodiversity and soil properties in Miombo woodland after slash-and-burn agriculture in Mozambique

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Regeneration capacities of woody species biodiversity and soil properties in Miombo woodland after slash-and-burn agriculture in Mozambique

Highlights

Woody species biodiversity, stand structure and soil properties change during forest succession.

Floristic and soil characteristics approach mature woodland characteristics over time.

Species diversity, species richness, and soil properties recovered after 20–25 years abandonment.

Recovery of floristic composition is not complete even after 30–35 years.

Dry Miombo has a high regeneration potential in the study area.

Abstract

Miombo woodland is the dominant tropical dry forest formation in Africa. Its importance for local populations’ livelihoods and increased pressure has turned the spotlight on this ecosystem, now considered one of the five global wilderness areas prioritized for conservation and restoration. Forest regeneration is a key to restoring ecosystem services, but the characteristics, conditions and dynamics of this specific biome remain largely understudied. The aim of this study was to analyze the current status and evolution of woody species biodiversity, stand structure and soil properties of regrowth plots after slash-and-burn farming in Mozambique. Our survey focused on the area surrounding Gilé National Park in Mozambique, which is dominated by a mosaic of vegetation including mature Miombo woodland, grassland, cropland, and land abandoned after slash-and-burn cycles. We sampled 20 plots in mature woodland and 36 plots in a chronosequence of Miombo regrowth from 1 to 35 years old, grouped in four age classes: 4–6, 8–12; 20–25 and 30–35 years. We observed that woody species richness and diversity increased with time after abandonment until similar values to those in mature woodlands were reached between 20 and 25 years later. Despite the presence of the dominant Miombo tree species belonging to the genera Julbernardia and Brachystegia, after 20–35 years of regeneration species composition remained different from that of mature woodlands. Mean DBH, tree height, and carbon stock increased while tree density decreased along the chronosequence. Tree density and tree carbon stocks in 30–35-year-old Miombo regrowth exceeded those of mature woodland. Soil C stock increased during vegetation regeneration after abandonment. Results suggest that two or three decades are necessary to reach values similar to those of mature woodland. Overall, these findings show that the region has a high regeneration capacity in terms of woody species diversity and soil properties but that disturbances have a long term effect on species composition and stand structure, underlining the importance of integrated landscape management to enhance the provision of ecosystem goods and services.

Keywords

Dry Miombo woodland

Regeneration

Restoration

Species richness

Species diversity

Species composition

Soil properties

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© 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Superforest

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