Karakterisatie van functionele diversiteit van prioriteit-boomsoorten langs hun verspreidingsgebieden in Colombiaans tropisch droogbos om praktisch ecologisch herstel en in situ behoud strategieën in te lichten

Robin Van Havermaet
Herstel van het Colombiaans tropisch droogbos“Bossen vormen niet alleen een cruciaal deel van de oplossing voor het klimaatprobleem – ze leveren ook voordelen op voor alle leden van de samenleving.”      – Ban Ki-moon, Secretaris-Generaal VN (VN Klimaattop New York, 2014)Veel mensen hebben wel al eens een natuurdocumentaire over het Amazone tropisch regenwoud gezien en zouden geneigd zijn om hieraan te denken wanneer er over de wereldproblematiek rond bossen gedebatteerd wordt. Maar is dit wel het enige bedreigde tropische woud?

Karakterisatie van functionele diversiteit van prioriteit-boomsoorten langs hun verspreidingsgebieden in Colombiaans tropisch droogbos om praktisch ecologisch herstel en in situ behoud strategieën in te lichten

Herstel van het Colombiaans tropisch droogbos

“Bossen vormen niet alleen een cruciaal deel van de oplossing voor het klimaatprobleem – ze leveren ook voordelen op voor alle leden van de samenleving.”

      – Ban Ki-moon, Secretaris-Generaal VN (VN Klimaattop New York, 2014)

Veel mensen hebben wel al eens een natuurdocumentaire over het Amazone tropisch regenwoud gezien en zouden geneigd zijn om hieraan te denken wanneer er over de wereldproblematiek rond bossen gedebatteerd wordt. Maar is dit wel het enige bedreigde tropische woud? Integendeel, er bestaan nog andere tropische wouden die sterk aan het krimpen, maar van groot belang zijn. Dit is het geval voor het tropisch droogbos. Maar wat is dit bostype precies en waarom is het bedreigd? Kan hieraan iets gedaan worden, en zo ja, hoe precies?

Situatie

Het grootste verschil met het tropisch regenwoud is dat in dit bostype – zoals de naam al doet vermoeden – een typisch droogseizoen voorkomt. De situatie van dit bostype, echter, is op z’n minst paradoxaal te noemen.

Tropische droogbossen leveren talrijke producten en diensten voor het levensonderhoud van miljoenen mensen over de hele wereld. Voorbeelden zijn het leveren van constructie- en brandhout, voedsel, het opnemen en vasthouden van het broeikasgas CO2 en nog veel meer. Desalniettemin is het tegelijkertijd één van de meest bedreigde ecosystemen wereldwijd. In Colombia blijft slechts 8%(!) van zijn originele bedekking over en hetgeen nog resteert, wordt amper beschermd en staat onder druk. Bedreigingen zijn bijvoorbeeld de uitbreiding van de landbouw, de klimaatsverandering (denk aan het weerfenomeen “El Niño” in Latijns-Amerika dat zeer droge periodes veroorzaakt), infrastructuurwerken en bouwprojecten zoals bijvoorbeeld hydro-elektrische dammen, wat momenteel het geval is in Ituango in Colombia. Sommige van deze bedreigingen vormen tevens een stressfactor voor de bossen in België.

Algemene aanpak

Er zijn dus voldoende stimulansen die aanleiding geven tot een draagvlak om dit bosecosysteem in Colombia te herstellen. Praktisch gezien kunnen twee belangrijke strategieën gehanteerd worden om de negatieve gevolgen van het geheel aan bedreigingen te verijdelen.

Als eerste dienen de plaatselijke bos restanten in stand gehouden te worden.  Tenslotte wordt er een ecologisch herstel van gedegradeerd land voorgesteld door middel van boomaanplantingen. Een voorbeeld van gedegradeerd land is land dat nog weinig voedingsstoffen bevat in de bodem en verre van geschikt is voor landbouw. De dag van vandaag wordt ecologisch herstel steeds meer beschouwd als een globale prioriteit omwille van het potentieel om tegelijkertijd bij te dragen tot het tegengaan van de klimaatsverandering, behoud van de biodiversiteit en het bestrijden van woestijnvorming.

Een bijkomende factor bij deze instandhoudings- en herstelactiviteiten is dat er ook rekening moet gehouden worden met de klimaatsverandering die nu al plaatsvindt, maar tevens in de toekomst (20 tot 40 jaar later). Zodus, in het algemeen, de bossen die voorkomen in de toekomst zijn diegenen waarvan de bomen aangepast zijn aan de toekomstige klimaatomstandigheden, en dit geldt evengoed voor bossen in België.

Meer specifiek…

Wanneer een bos onderzocht wordt met het doel om deze in stand te houden en/of te herstellen, dient er een selectie van te onderzoeken boomsoorten te gebeuren die het bos zo goed mogelijk vertegenwoordigen aangezien het onderzoeken van alle boomsoorten praktisch onmogelijk is. Dit was ook het geval in de uitgevoerde studie. Hierbij werd prioriteit gegeven aan die soorten waarvan de genetische eigenschappen gekend zijn aangezien genetica een grote rol speelt bij het aanpassingsvermogen van een individu aan bepaalde omstandigheden.

Vervolgens werden deze prioriteit-boomsoorten bemonsterd op geografisch en klimatologisch verschillende plaatsen in Colombia waar nog steeds tropisch droogbos aanwezig is. Nadien werden specifieke functionele kenmerken bepaald voor elk bemonsterd individu van elke gevonden prioriteit-boomsoort op een specifieke locatie op basis van verzameld materiaal (bladeren en takken). Deze kenmerken vertellen iets over hoe een boom(soort) reageert op veranderingen in zijn omgeving, maar ook hoe de boom(soort) deze beïnvloedt. Op deze manier speelt een boom een rol binnen de functionering van het ecosysteem. Bijvoorbeeld, kleine dikke bladeren zijn meer bestand tegen droogte, maar tegelijkertijd verteren deze trager dan grote dunne bladeren en dit beïnvloedt de voedingsstofcyclus in de bodem.

Omwille van de aard van deze functionele kenmerken luidt de kernvraag van dit verhaal als volgt: “Voor een bepaalde regio waarvoor instandhoudings- of herstelactiviteiten gepland zijn, waar bevinden zich de (bemonsterde) individuen van een bepaalde prioriteit-boomsoort die het best aangepast zijn aan de (toekomstige) omstandigheden aldaar?”

Belangrijk om op te merken is dat het kan verwacht worden dat er verschillen bestaan tussen boomsoorten hun functionele kenmerken, en dus hun aanpassingsvermogen. Nochtans impliceert de bovenstaande hypothese het bestaan van verschillen binnen boomsoorten doordat de individuen van een soort ook beschouwd worden. Dit wordt ook wel intraspecifieke variabiliteit genoemd, maar bestaat dit wel? De resultaten van de studie konden dit bevestigen en sterker nog, deze intraspecifieke variabiliteit was op zijn beurt groter of kleiner naargelang de beschouwde soort.

Om terug te komen op de kernvraag, bleek uit de resultaten van de studie dat er een – weliswaar ruw – geografisch patroon zichtbaar was in het functionele profiel van de verschillende prioriteit-boomsoorten. Bovendien was het mogelijk om specifieke bemonsterde locaties in verband te brengen met bepaalde functionele kenmerken en hun waarden.

Hoe kan het nu verder?

De geobserveerde diversiteit aan functionele kenmerken binnen een soort, verspreid over Colombia, is het resultaat van genetica en de omgeving. Bijgevolg werd ook aan deze genetische component tegemoet gekomen binnen het lokaal project in Colombia waarvan deze studie deel uitmaakte. Op die manier konden door het combineren van de resultaten van zowel de functionele als de genetische studies uiteindelijk de geschikte bomen gelokaliseerd worden om zaad van te verzamelen. Met dit zaad zullen vervolgens boomkwekerijen opgestart worden om aanplantingsmateriaal te bekomen voor de instandhoudings- en herstelactiviteiten van het Colombiaans tropisch droogbos op verschillende plaatsen…

…hetgeen hoopgevend is voor de rurale gemeenschappen die hun thuis in het tropisch droogbos in Ituango zullen verliezen door de bouw van een hydro-elektrische dam. Indien succesvol, zouden de gehanteerde onderzoeksmethoden en instandhoudings- en herstelprotocollen gebruikt kunnen worden voor het beheer van tropisch droogbos op andere plaatsen in de wereld.

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Universiteit of Hogeschool
Master of Science in de bio-ingenieurswetenschappen: landbouwkunde
Publicatiejaar
2015
Kernwoorden
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