Aboveground production in cleared and thinnedstands of semiarid tropical woodland, Brazil

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For. Ecol. & Management



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Wood and forage, both herbaceous and the foliage of woody plants, are two of the most heavily exploited and readily available resources of the caatinga vegetation zone in northeastern Brazil. Caatinga clearing (0% canopy cover), two levels of thinning (25% and 55% canopy cover) and a control (95% canopy cover) were compared in terms of above-ground production of wood and forage. At the end of the first year after treatment, total above-ground production was 5106, 6596, 6762 and 7347 kg ha−1 year−1 for the 0% (cleared), 25%, 55% and 95% (control) canopy cover treatments, respectively. Each of the three reduced-canopy treatments resulted in a seven- to eightfold increase in total herbaceous yields, with a corresponding decrease in wood production, compared to the control treatment. Total biomass of foliage from woody plants was significantly higher (P < 0.1) on the unthinned control than on the treated areas, although there was no difference (P < 0.1) among the treated areas. Thus, simple stand-manipulation practices altered the type of biomass produced without greatly affecting total forage production. Thinned stands of caatinga could allow for high levels of forage production while maintaining moderate to high levels of wood production.