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1.  Cambial Growth Season of Brevi-Deciduous Brachystegia spiciformis Trees from South Central Africa Restricted to Less than Four Months 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47364.
We investigate cambial growth periodicity in Brachystegia spiciformis, a dominant tree species in the seasonally dry miombo woodland of southern Africa. To better understand how the brevi-deciduous (experiencing a short, drought-induced leaf fall period) leaf phenology of this species can be linked to a distinct period of cambial activity, we applied a bi-weekly pinning to six trees in western Zambia over the course of one year. Our results show that the onset and end of cambial growth was synchronous between trees, but was not concurrent with the onset and end of the rainy season. The relatively short (three to four months maximum) cambial growth season corresponded to the core of the rainy season, when 75% of the annual precipitation fell, and to the period when the trees were at full photosynthetic capacity. Tree-ring studies of this species have found a significant relationship between annual tree growth and precipitation, but we did not observe such a correlation at intra-annual resolution in this study. Furthermore, a substantial rainfall event occurring after the end of the cambial growth season did not induce xylem initiation or false ring formation. Low sample replication should be taken into account when interpreting the results of this study, but our findings can be used to refine the carbon allocation component of process-based terrestrial ecosystem models and can thus contribute to a more detailed estimation of the role of the miombo woodland in the terrestrial carbon cycle. Furthermore, we provide a physiological foundation for the use of Brachystegia spiciformis tree-ring records in paleoclimate research.
PMCID: PMC3468463  PMID: 23071794
2.  The charcoal trap: Miombo forests and the energy needs of people 
This study evaluates the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas fluxes to the atmosphere resulting from charcoal production in Zambia. It combines new biomass and flux data from a study, that was conducted in a miombo woodland within the Kataba Forest Reserve in the Western Province of Zambia, with data from other studies.
The measurements at Kataba compared protected area (3 plots) with a highly disturbed plot outside the forest reserve and showed considerably reduced biomass after logging for charcoal production. The average aboveground biomass content of the reserve (Plots 2-4) was around 150 t ha-1, while the disturbed plot only contained 24 t ha-1. Soil carbon was not reduced significantly in the disturbed plot. Two years of eddy covariance measurements resulted in net ecosystem exchange values of -17 ± 31 g C m-2 y-1, in the first and 90 ± 16 g C m-2 in the second year. Thus, on the basis of these two years of measurement, there is no evidence that the miombo woodland at Kataba represents a present-day carbon sink. At the country level, it is likely that deforestation for charcoal production currently leads to a per capita emission rate of 2 - 3 t CO2 y-1. This is due to poor forest regeneration, although the resilience of miombo woodlands is high. Better post-harvest management could change this situation.
We argue that protection of miombo woodlands has to account for the energy demands of the population. The production at national scale that we estimated converts into 10,000 - 15,000 GWh y-1 of energy in the charcoal. The term "Charcoal Trap" we introduce, describes the fact that this energy supply has to be substituted when woodlands are protected. One possible solution, a shift in energy supply from charcoal to electricity, would reduce the pressure of forests but requires high investments into grid and power generation. Since Zambia currently cannot generate this money by itself, the country will remain locked in the charcoal trap such as many other of its African neighbours. The question arises whether and how money and technology transfer to increase regenerative electrical power generation should become part of a post-Kyoto process. Furthermore, better inventory data are urgently required to improve knowledge about the current state of the woodland usage and recovery. Net greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced substantially by improving the post-harvest management, charcoal production technology and/or providing alternative energy supply.
PMCID: PMC3189094  PMID: 21854587
miombo woodland; deforestation; biomass; eddy covariance; soil carbon

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