The study of anthropogenic impacts on tropical forests is vital in the design and development of sustainable extraction systems for both timber and non-timber products. However, distinguishing non-timber forest products (NTFPs) harvesting impacts from timber extraction consequences on the vegetation could be difficult, since tropical forest species often have a multipurpose status. This study explores the purposes and characteristics of timber and non-timber products usage in the Swamp Forest of Lokoli (in the south of Benin Republic) and assesses extraction impacts on the forest dynamics. We used structural parameters analysis and ecological indices to explain the vegetation structure and the species responses to anthropogenic pressures. The results suggest that the forest is being devastated by extraction activities of the local people including both timber collection and non-timber harvesting. Finally, this paper suggests that management policies balancing socio-economic and conservation priorities, through introduction of alternative economic activities, strengthening of the local agriculture and a participatory management plan are the best options for the long term preservation of this forest.
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Vol. 19 • No. 2