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Sustainable management of logged tropical forests in the Caribbean to ensure long-term productivity

To facilitate sustainable management of logged forests in the Caribbean, forest authorities of Belize, Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, jointly with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the University of Hamburg as a scientific partner, implemented the regional project “Ensuring Long-Term Productivity of Lowland Tropical Forests in the Caribbean” financed by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. The main objective of the project was to support the sustainable management of logged forests to maintain productivity and prevent further degradation. For this purpose, extensive field studies were conducted in the project countries, which resulted in silvicultural recommendations presented in this publication.

The project findings revealed that the application of general sustainable forest management protocols for tropical production forests that set limits on harvesting does not necessarily ensure sustained productivity if the composition and management of the residual stand are not considered. The ratio of the number of harvested trees to the remaining future crop trees can provide a simple indicator of the sustainability of harvest. If the current harvest exceeds the number of future crop trees, the harvest is not sustainable. As a rule of thumb, at least one, preferably two future crop trees per harvested tree should be retained for future use. Protection of future crop trees can be a simple and practical approach to prevent high grading and degradation of the forest growing stock. The importance of reduced impact logging to reduce unnecessary damage to the future crop trees and for sustainable forest management, in general, is stressed.

Latin America & Caribbean