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Research Article

Predicting site productivity of the timber tree Pterocarpus angolensis

DOI: 10.2989/20702620.2016.1256042
Author(s): Vera De CauwerFaculty of Natural Resources and Spatial Sciences, Namibia, Esther FichtlerTropical Plant Production and Agricultural Systems Modelling, Department of Crop Sciences, Germany, Hans BeeckmanService of Wood Biology, Belgium, F Patrick GrazFaculty of Natural Resources and Spatial Sciences, Namibia, Jan MertensDepartment of Applied Biosciences, Belgium, Sam Van HolsbeeckDepartment of Applied Biosciences, Belgium, Bart MuysDivision of Forest, Nature and Landscape, Belgium


Pterocarpus angolensis is an important timber tree of the miombo woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. The species only grows in natural mixed forests and little is known about is productivity potential. This study aimed at investigating productivity of P. angolensis on a local scale in Namibia and Angola and on a regional scale in southern Africa. The most commonly accepted productivity indicator is stem diameter increment and this was used to study productivity at a regional scale. Indicators of productivity used at the local scale were basal area, proportional basal area and site form, which were derived from 217 forest inventory plots in Namibia and Angola. The productivity measures were modelled with abiotic site factors; biotic factors were added for the local scale. Results indicated that the most consistent site factors at local and regional scale were not related to climate but to forest cover, with the species having a competitive advantage in more open forests. Mean annual diameter increment in the open forests of Namibia was 0.51 cm after 50 years. Boosted regression tree models at a local scale showed that species presence can be modelled more successfully than species basal area, proportional basal area (correlation of 0.72 vs 0.56 and 0.45, respectively) and site form. The sites with the highest productivity of P. angolensis at the local scale had a temperature seasonality below 34.5 °C, a slope of less than 1.5°, tree cover less than 20% and stand basal area higher than 9 m2 ha−1. The results can assist in establishing a site-dependent growth model for the species and direct forest and fire management towards the most productive areas.

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