Call edition 2012

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Biodiversity of trees and shrubs in the protected area of Altos de Nsork, Equatorial Guinea

Bruno SENTERRE student laureate

°1976 Belgium
Agricultural engineer, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, 1999

Biodiversité des ligneux dans l'aire protégée des Altos de Nsork (Guinée Equatoriale)

Biodiversity is a recent term which is often wrongly interpreted as being a synonym to the 'richness of species'. Systematics and taxonomy are the sciences most suited for its study. Most definitions of biodiversity, however, refer to the variability of life in its many forms. Biodiversity as such is much more than abstract lists of species of plants and animals. Indeed, the term also encompasses the concrete variety of structures and functions in an ecosystem, thus giving it a clear ecological dimension.
In his analysis of a tropical rain forest Bruno Senterre studied the local biodiversity both in a concrete and an abstract way. He made up lists of species and families, in itself quite worthy, but, moreover, he analysed the forest structure in a scientific way by means of a forestry inventory.
Such inventories are necessary instruments for the outline of an ecologically justified forest management: in order to know how much biodiversity can be extracted from a certain forest, one needs to gain an insight in the stocks available and in its reproductivity.
In order to develop a sustainable forest management, it is also esential that consumers of tropical biodiversity in the industrialised world do not confine themselves to a few tropical woods suited for technological applications. The fact that a specific tropical forest does not contain sufficient exploitable Okume (Aucoumea klaineana, ideal for plywood) does not mean it would not be economically valuable and would depend for its protection on conservation based on goodwill. Because of its biodiversity which can be exploited in several ways, the Altos de Nsork forest is of undeniable value.

report by Prof. Dr. Ir. Hans Beeckman, Laboratory for Wood Biology, Africa Museum, Tervuren, Belgium