Reference : The origin of the forests in the North of the Congo Republic: an anthraco-pedological...
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Paper published in a book
Life sciences : Agriculture & agronomy
Life sciences : Environmental sciences & ecology
The origin of the forests in the North of the Congo Republic: an anthraco-pedological contribution.
Gillet, Jean-François mailto [> >]
Beeckman, H. [> >]
Doucet, Jean-Louis [Université de Liège - ULiège > Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech > Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech >]
Geological survey of Belgium professional papers N. 303-2008/1
Damblon, F.
Court-Picon, M.
4th International Meeting of Anthracology
du 8 au 13 septembre 2008
[en] Charcoal analysis ; Tropical forest soils ; Vegetation reconstruction ; Central Africa
[en] The vegetation of the Sangha region in the North of the Congo Republic is composed of a mosaic of forest formations including semi-deciduous humid dense forests characterized by Ulmaceae and Sterculiaceae, evergreen forests with Gilbertiodendron dewevrei and woodland with Marantaceae. Palynological analyses proved that this region witnessed an arid phase 2500 years ago. This was associated with an important reduction of the forest cover and an equal extension of savannahs that could have facilitated the migrations of the Bantou people and the propagation of the shifting cultivation agriculture in the whole region which is, still at the moment, sparsely populated.
In order to verify climatic and anthropological influences on the present composition of the forest vegetation, a pedological investigation has been set up in the region of Pokola (1.5° N; 16.5 °E) comprising 43 drillings and 12 pits along a gradient covering the different forest types.
Charcoal has been found in 84% of the cores in all the forest formations especially between 30 cm and 60 cm depth. Charred oil palm seeds (Elaeis guineensis), often a culture accompanying species, have been found in 60% of the pits. C14 analysis revealed dates between 600 and 2200 years BP.
Pedological analyses showed the association between semi-deciduous humid dense forest and red ferralsols, between Marantaceae woodlands and ochre ferralsols (poorer than the former) and between Gilbertiodendron dewevrei stands and pseudogleys and gleysols.
The identification of the botanical taxon of charcoal fragments from tropical regions deals with important limitations due to scarce reference collections that are far from being complete. Therefore it is crucial to combine a thorough knowledge of the different vegetation types and their character species with a wood anatomical study. Given the hypothesised strong influence of man induced perturbations and past climatic changes, these results emphasize the importance of edaphic factors in differentiating the forest stands in the North of the Congo Republic.
They also permit a better understanding of a potential evolution of the forests in this region driven by the actual climatic changes.

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