Understanding the stand dynamics of tropical production forests is essential for determining the sustainability of a polycyclic selective logging system, but limited related studies have addressed the impacts of illegal logging over time. Myanmar faces the extensive degradation of traditional production forests with a 160-year logging history, but the cause of this degradation and how to balance legal and/or illegal disturbances with recovery in over-logged forests remain unclear. The present study investigated stand structural changes over 5 years after official legal logging operations using two 1-ha (100 × 100 m) sample plots. For 5 years after logging, the volume of trees with a diameter at breast height (DBH) ≥ 20 cm decreased by 46.0% from 121 to 65.1 m3 ha-1, with a significant loss of the first-and second-grade species group (Tectona grandis Linn. f. and Xylia xylocarpa (Roxb.) Taub.) from 48.3 to 6.8 m3 ha-1. The total tree loss owing to official logging operations, mainly targeting the second-and fourth-grade species group, was 29.3 m3 ha-1. A similar level of total tree loss (28.0 m3 ha-1) was attributed to illegal logging that targeted the first-and second-grade species group. The mean annual recruitment rate of 3.1% was larger than the reported values for tropical forests, but there were no and only 1.5 trees ha-1 recruitments s for T. grandis and X. xylocarpa, respectively. The mean annual mortality rate of 2.5% was within the values reported in the related literature, and the volume loss from the mortality was relatively similar to the gain from the increment of living trees for all species groups. We concluded that the effects of illegal disturbances for 5 years post-harvest were equivalent to those of legal disturbances and larger than those of natural change, and are a major cause of the substantial reduction in stocking levels, especially for commercial species.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes