Science - October 30, 2008


Bolivia needs to tighten up its rules on harvesting mahogany wood. Under the current system, production of mahogany wood is doomed. This is the message from Wageningen and Bolivian researchers in an article in the latest edition of the Journal of Applied Ecology.

Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) is the most expensive tropical wood, and has been on the CITES list of threatened species since 2002. So felling needs to be more strictly regulated.

In Bolivia, rules allow for up to eighty percent of the larger trees (with a trunk diameter of over 70 centimetres) to be felled per twenty-year cycle. But this limit is not enough to save the tree in the long term, say Caspar Verwer and his colleagues from the chair group Forest Ecology and Forest Management and the Bolivian Forest Research Institute.
Without more forest management, regeneration takes at least fifty years, say the researchers. It can go faster, but only if far fewer trees are felled per cycle. A felling cycle of twenty five years is viable if no more than half the large trees are felled at a time. But then extra forest management is needed to create the right light conditions for the remaining trees and speed up their growth and rejuvenation.