Understanding tree growth for the sustainable management of a popular tropical timber species

Afrormosia is among the most exploited timber species from the Congolese rainforest. However, as the trees suffer from regeneration problems, overexploitation may jeopardise the survival of the species. To develop a more sustainable management, researchers are trying to understand the tree’s growth pattern through experimental plantations.

Popular but vulnerable

Afrormosia (or Assamela, Pericopsis elata) is a hardwood flagship species native to Central and West Africa, and is one of the most harvested and most valuable in the DRC. Thanks to its exceptional properties it is very popular for instance with furniture makers and interior designers and architects (for parquet floors, terraces, window frames  etc.)

Afrormosia, however, is potentially very vulnerable: as a light demanding species at a young age it does not regenerate well naturally in Central Africa’s closed canopy forests. Its trees are increasingly harvested, more and more under the radar of the authorities, jeopardizing its very existence.

The species is therefore classified as endangered on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and its international trade is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

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