Environmental Conservation

Forest species regeneration and management options in the Melajo Nature Reserve, Trinidad and Tobago

a1 Vega De Oropouche, Via Sangre Grande, Trinidad and Tobago
a2 22B Boodooville Circular, Sangre Grande, Trinidad and Tobago
a3 The National Herbarium, Sir Frank Stockdale Building, University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago


Tropical moist forests are declining rapidly world-wide. Reforestation efforts in Trinidad have generally been insufficient and focused on non-native species. Some of these species (e.g. Pinus caribaea), however, appear ecologically inappropriate but have been used extensively on sandy soils after fires or where harvesting has degraded the original vegetation. Little research attention has been given to natural regeneration as a potential for future timber production. The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not post-fire regeneration provided sufficient species of commercial importance that could influence forest management planning. The field research was conducted at the Melajo Nature Reserve in north-east Trinidad, where there has been a particular focus on non-native species plantation in adjacent areas. A fire in 1987 devastated much of the remaining mature mora (Mora excelsa Benth.) forest at the Melajo Nature Reserve. The successional species were identified and recorded four years after the fire, and the abundances of commercially-important regenerating species were determined. The total number of species recorded was 201, representing 60 families with 153 genera. There were 14 species of timber value, with Mora excelsa, Terminalia amazonia, Byrsonima spicata and Sterculia caribaea being the most abundant. The abundance of commercially-important timber species in the most fire-damaged plot was 93% less than that for the least fire-damaged plot. The density of these species at the post-fire site in Melajo was on average higher than that of the same species in the mature mora forest. In 1991, the post-fire site at Melajo contained about 54% of the species recorded for a mature mora forest at Matura, north of Melajo (over 50 years ago).

(Received May 28 1997)
(Accepted November 6 1997)

Key Words: reforestation; regeneration; post-fire; succession; tropical moist forest; timber species; Trinidad and Tobago.

c1 Correspondence: Dr Floyd Homer. Tel: + 868 668 2535. Email: [email protected]