Conservation of Brachylaena huillensis O.Hoffm (Asteraceae) in Dindili Forest Reserve, Morogoro, Tanzania

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Addis Ababa University


A flagship species is a species chosen to represent an environmental cause, such as an ecosystem in need of conservation, it is chosen for its vulnerability, attractiveness or distinctiveness in order to best engender support and acknowledgement from the public at large. Brachylaena huillensis O.Hoffm (Asteraceae) is a threatened economically important tree species commonly found in dry coastal forests of Tanzania and a potential flagship species in conservation of its habitat. The study was done around Dindili forest reserve, Fulwe village, Morogoro, to assess B. huillensis standing and harvested wood stocks, coppice regeneration, use, management and its flagship species potential in conserving its habitat. Data were collected using forest inventory, focus group discussion and quantitative ethnobotany (use values, direct matrix ranking, preference ranking and structured interview). The standing wood stock of B. huillensis, was found to be substantial as revealed by relatively high tree density (15 stems per/ ha), basal area (0.73m2/ha), volume (5.63m3/ha) and IVI (13.87). B. huillensis was found to be highly harvested as indicated by over one-third of previously standing wood stock already harvested. The observed preferential harvesting of female B. huillensis tree presents a serious ecological threat to its future successful reproduction. B. huillensis density distribution by dbh classes showed abnormal trend, which signify poor recruitment and regeneration. The results of coppice regeneration found B. huillensis to be a very poor resprouter. However, its regeneration from seed is promising in the forest reserve. The species (B. huillensis) was found to be known by 84% of respondents and used by 78% of them for different purposes. The species is intensively utilized for poles and posts as mentioned by 76% of respondents, its poles were claimed to be durable and extremely resistant to termites. Results of preference ranking showed that it is the most preferred species for building poles and the most sold tree species; it was also positioned second in carving use category. B. huillensis was found to be a useful multipurpose tree species as it was ranked second and fourth in direct matrix ranking and use values respectively. The ongoing Joint Forest Management (JFM) of the forest reserve does not show positive results, mainly due to lack of important socio-economic considerations during its inception. Frequent fires threaten the perpetuity of the studied coastal forest. Based on the developed criteria, B. huillensis was found to be an excellent flagship species in conservation of its habitat. Among others, the study recommends research on B.huillensis sex-ratio, restoration of its normal regeneration trend in the forest reserve and review of JFM.