Natural regeneration potential of Pterocarpus angolensis (Kiaat Tree) in the dry forests of northern Namibia

Kayofa, Fillemon (2015-04)

Thesis (MSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Pterocarpus angolensis is one of the timber tree species that regenerates naturally in the dry forest of Namibia, mainly assisted by the influence of forest fires. Tree development goes through a prolonged suffrutex stage to reach the sapling stage and then, finally, the bole tree stage. This study focused on assessing the main factors facilitating the development of Pterocarpus angolensis seedlings through the suffrutex stage to the sapling stage in Namibia dry forests. To achieve the study objectives three study locations (Okongo and Ncumcara Community Forests and Caprivi State Forest) were selected, representing a rainfall gradient. Within each study location, two different fire history treatments (recently burnt (RB) and recently unburnt (RU)) were selected, and four plots were randomly selected from each fire history treatment. Face to face individual interviews was conducted with community members surrounding the three forests to obtain indigenous knowledge information about Pterocarpus angolensis tree development. Seedlings and saplings found in all plots were counted and measured (tree height and diameter at breast height (DBH)) while trees more than 3 m high were only counted and measured for DBH. Laboratory analysis was performed to determine basic soil texture and nutrient status. In addition, destructive sampling was done on individual trees in the seedling and sapling stages at each study location. The destructive samples allowed for estimation of biomass in above and below ground components, determination of carbohydrate storage in the taproots and estimation of tree age by counting growth rings on the neck disc of the taproot sample. These measures could shed light on the tree development through the suffrutex stage. The main agents causing Pterocarpus angolensis tree damage and stand disturbances observed are drought, fires, insects, diseases, temperature, lightning, wind, animals and humans. Forest fires were found to be one of the major disturbances in all the study locations, particularly damaging to seedlings when fire intensity is high. Likewise, the most important factors influencing the tree development from seedlings to sapling and sapling to bole tree stages are soil water, soil fertility, plant competition, sunlight and fires. Through counting growth rings of taproot neck discs, it is estimated that the ages of seedlings most commonly range from 5 to 12 years in the dry forests of Okongo, Ncumcara and Caprivi. The soil texture in the three forests is dominated by sand, with the soil reaction usually being moderately acidic while the soils have low levels of organic carbon, phosphorus and exchangeable base cations. This study revealed that Caprivi State Forest (location with the highest rainfall) has the highest stand density followed by Okongo Community Forest and Ncumcara Community Forest with the lowest. Trees were grouped into different DBH and height classes. The highest numbers of trees are found in DBH class 0 – 10 cm and in height class 0.6 – 1.0 m at Okongo Community Forest but at Ncumcara and Caprivi many of the trees are in height class 1.1 – 1.5 m. The mean DBH difference is significant between locations but not significant between fire history treatments. A higher abundance of mature trees are found at Okongo Community Forest while a greater abundance of saplings occur at Ncumcara Community Forest which shows a significant difference between study locations. Seedling abundance is the same across study locations and fire history treatments. The difference in stand structure between study locations appears to be strongly influenced by different management regimes on the three locations. A majority of respondents from all the study locations alleged soil water followed by soil fertility as the main influential factors to Pterocarpus angolensis development. Again, most of the respondents revealed that seedling takes 4 – 7 years to reach sapling stage and their main environmental disturbance is fire. Tree cutting by members of the community was also perceived by the respondents as an important non-environmental disturbance. The most abundant tree development stage perceived by respondents was mature trees while seedlings rated the sparsest stage. Based on the respondents no silvicultural practices are performed to promote Pterocarpus angolensis growth. It follows that the Kiaat trees are currently growing without human intervention that might enhance their development. A combination of social survey (interview) and ecological survey provided reliable information on ecological processes. A weak positive significant correlation relationship existed between shoot mass (aboveground biomass) and taproot mass (belowground biomass), meaning when the taproot mass increases the shoot mass also increases. Analysis of non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) storage in taproots showed that both sugar and starch contents in the taproots could facilitate the survival of the tree during suffrutex stages and its rapid growth thereafter. Based on this study Pterocarpus angolensis regeneration in these three dry forests is poor because seedling abundance is the lowest compared to saplings and mature trees. These study findings can be used as the basis for further studies to predict Pterocarpus angolensis natural regeneration in the dry forests, as well as input when management regimes are being developed for the dry forests of North Namibia.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Pterocarpus angolensis (Kiaat) is een van die boomspesies wat natuurlik verjong in die droë bosveld van Namibië, met die hulp van bosbrande. Die boom ontwikkel deur ʼn lang semi-struik stadium waartydens die boompies as saailinge bekendstaan. Daarna ontwikkel dit deur die jongboom stadium tot dit uiteindelik die kroon stadium bereik. Hierdie studie fokus op die faktore bydra tot die ontwikkeling van Pterocarpus angolensis van die semi-struik stadium na die jongboom stadium in die droë bosveld van Namibië. Om die doelstellings van die tesis te bereik is drie studiegebiede gekies langs ʼn reënvalgradiënt (naamlik Okongo en Ncumcara gemeenskapsbosse asook Caprivi Staatsbos). Binne elke studiegebied is twee behandelings met verskillende brandgeskiedenis gekies (gebrand of nie-gebrand in die onlangse verlede). Vier persele is ewekansig uit elk van hierdie behandelings gekies vir eksperimentering. Persoonlike onderhoude is gevoer met gemeenskapslede wat in die omgewing woon ten einde inheemse kennis en inligting te versamel oor die ontwikkeling van die jong Pterocarpus angolensis bome. Alle saailinge en jongbome wat voorkom in die persele is getel en gemeet (boomhoogte en deursnee op borshoogte (DBH)) terwyl bome wat hoër as 3 m is, slegs getel en vir DBH gemeet is. Laboratoriumtoetse is gedoen op grondmonsters ten einde ‘n basiese beskrywing van die grondtekstuur en voedingstofstatus te verkry. Verder is destruktiewe bemonstering toegepas op bome in beide die saailing en jongboom stadium op elke studiegebied. Hierdie bemonstering het dit moontlik gemaak om bogrondse en ondergrondse biomassa te skat, om die opberging van koolhidrate in die penwortels te bepaal, en ook om die boom ouderdom te skat vanaf jaarringe in die nek van die penwortel monster. Hierdie metings kon lig werp op die boomontwikkeling deur die semi-struik stadium. Die faktore wat skade aan Pterocarpus angolensis bome veroorsaak asook versteuring van die opstande waarin die bome voorkom is droogte, brande, insekte, siektes, temperatuur uiterstes, weerlig, wind, diere en mense. Die bevindinge dui op bosbrande as een van die belangrikste versteuringsfaktor in al drie studiegebiede; dit is veral skadelik vir saailinge in die semi-struik stadium wanneer die vuurintensiteit hoog is. Die faktore wat die boomontwikkeling van saailing, na jongboom en kroonstadium beïnvloed is hoofsaaklik grondwater, grondvrugbaarheid, plantkompetisie, sonlig en brande. Die ouderdom van saailinge (bepaal vanaf jaarring tellings in die nek van penwortel monsters) van die meeste saailinge én jongbome is na raming tussen 5 en 12 jaar vir die droë bosse in die studiegebiede van Okongo, Ncumcara en Caprivi. Die grondtekstuur van hierdie studie se drie bosgebiede is hoofsaaklik sanderig, met ’n effens suur grondreaksie terwyl die gronde lae vlakke van organiese koolstof, fosfor, en uitruilbare basiese katione bevat. Die studie het aangedui dat Caprivi staatsbos (met die hoogste reënval) die digste opstande huisves, gevolg deur Okongo en dan Ncumcara gemeenskapsbos, met die laagste digtheid. Bome is gegroepeer in verskillende DBH en hoogte klasse. Die meeste bome kom voor in die DBH klas van 0-10 cm en in die hoogteklas van 0.6 – 1.0 m by Okongo, maar by Ncumcara en Caprivi is daar meer bome in die hoogteklas van 1.1 - 1.5 m. Die gemiddelde DBH verskil is betekenisvol tussen studiegebiede, maar is nie betekenisvol verskillend tussen brandgeskiedenis behandelings nie. ’n Hoër voorkoms van volwasse bome is by Okongo aangetref, terwyl ’n hoër voorkoms van jongbome by Ncumcara waargeneem is, en hierdie verskil was statisties betekenisvol. Die voorkoms van saailinge is soortgelyk oor alle studiegebiede en brandgeskiedenis behandelings heen. Die verskil in die struktuur van die opstande op die drie studiegebiede word skynbaar sterk beïnvloed deur verskillende bestuurspraktyke wat in elke gebied toegepas word. Die meerderheid van respondente van al drie studiegebiede beweer dat grondwater, gevolg deur grondvrugbaarheid die belangrikste faktore is wat P. angolensis ontwikkeling beïnvloed. Meeste van die respondente onthul dat saailinge 4 tot 7 jaar neem om die jongboom stadium te bereik en dat die belangrikste versteuringsagent bosbrande is. ʼn Belangrike nie-omgewingsfaktor wat verantwoordelik is vir versteuring in die bosse is mense wat bome, lote en/of takke afsaag. Respondente is van mening dat volwasse bome die grootteklas met die mees algemene voorkoms is, terwyl saailinge die skaarsste grootteklas uitmaak. Die respondente het aangedui dat geen boskultuurpraktyke toegepas word om die groei van P. angolensis aan te help nie. Die gevolgtrekking is dus dat die Kiaatbome tans groei sonder menslike ingryping om hul ontwikkeling te verbeter. Die kombinasie van persoonlike onderhoude en ʼn ekologiese opnames het betroubare inligting rakende ekologiese prosesse opgelewer. ’n Swak positiewe, maar betekenisvolle korrelasie bestaan tussen die massa van die bogrondse lote en die penwortelmassa, wat beteken dat die lote se massa toeneem met toenemende wortelmassa. Analise van opgebergde nie-strukturele koolhidraatreserwes in die penwortel toon dat beide suiker- én styselinhoud in die penwortels die oorlewing van die boom in die struikstadium aanhelp, asook sy vinnige groei na die struikstadium. Die feit dat die saailinge minder volop is as jongbome en volwasse bome in hierdie studie dui aan dat verjonging van Pterocarpus angolensis in hierdie droë bosse maar swak is. Die bevindinge van die studie bevat inligting wat gebruik kans word (a) as die grondslag van verdere studies op die natuurlike verjonging van Pterocarpus angolensis in droë bosse, en (b) as inset wanneer bestuursaanbevelings vir die droë bosse van Noord Namibië ontwikkel word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97146
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