WFT RESEARCH GRANT ACTIVITIES SUMMARY
by Kelly Keefe
During the Summer of 2003, I worked in the state of Pará, Brazil. This state is located in
the north of Brazil, near the mouth of the Amazon River. I spent most of my time in the
city of Belém, working with the Fundação Floresta Tropical. This foundation has been
promoting Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) methods since 1990, and operates an RIL
training camp near the city of Paragominas, in Pará. Since my interest is in enrichment
planting, I helped FFT gather, compile, enter and assess data from their enrichment
planting plots at the training camp.
What is enrichment planting? It is a natural forest management technique in which trees
are planted to supplement natural regeneration. In general, enrichment planting can
include fruit trees, medicinal plants, timber trees, or other valuable species. However,
FFT has focused on timber species, since their audience is composed mostly of loggers,
timber land managers and other parties that are interested in logging.
At the FFT training camp plots, I noticed that the survival and growth of most of the
planted species looks promising. The biophysical problems that the trees encounter at
this site are pests such as moths that burrow into the tissue of mahogany trees, and
herbivorous animals that browse on young seedlings. FFT is testing various planting
scenarios to see if they can reduce the pest problem and enhance tree growth.
I also traveled to another set of enrichment planting plots that were started by Drs, Daniel
Nepstad and Cristopher Uhl in the late 1980s. These plots are located at Fazenda Vitoria,
near the city of Paragominas. Access to Fazenda Vitoria was provided for me by the
Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (IPAM), located in Belém. The plots at
Fazenda Vitoria contained timber and fruit tree species that had been subjected to various
treatments when they were planted. The planting was conducted in pastures, which have
since become secondary forests. I noticed that some of the planted trees survived and
grew markedly more than the others. In addition to the planting treatments, vine growth
in these areas may have hindered tree growth. It will be very interesting to analyze the
data to find which treatments are responsible for the disparities in survival and growth.
In general, I noticed that there are valuable timber species that do well in enrichment
planting plots. Since these trees become valuable, it seems that they would be planted
more often by land managers such as logging companies. However, large logging
companies tend to avoid conducting such plantings. My research will now focus on the
socioeconomic and political factors that prevent large companies from adopting
enrichment planting as a management technique. I hope to make suggestions based on
my research that will show that enrichment planting can complement other forms of
forest use and management if it is supported by socioeconomic and political factors. This
may promote more widespread use of enrichment planting as a natural forest
management technique in the Amazon region.
Photo 1. Example of pasture land that was created by clearing and burning forest cover. Areas
like these could increase in value with the addition of timber species seedlings.
Photo 2. Identification markers were constructed and placed along tree rows for future
identification at Fazenda Cauaxi.
Photo 3. Planted mahogany has a high survival rate in maintained plots at Fazenda Cauaxi.
Photo 4. Planted Taxi that shows rapid growth and extensive branching at Fazenda Vitoria.
Photo 5. Unchecked vine growth on disturbed sites at Fazenda Vitoria may hinder the
development of some planted trees.