Wood biology and forest ecology of tropical Africa
***While the museum building will close its doors mid-2013 for
renovation, scientific research will continue at Tervuren.***
Wood biology is the study of the anatomy and dendrochronology of trees and other ligneous plants. In particular, we analyse the cellular composition and the growth process of tropical African trees. Our work contributes to the sustainable production of wood and forest ecology in tropical Africa.
Fields of research:
- wood varieties,
- growth of trees and forest ecology,
- physiology of tropical trees,
- history and composition of ancient forests through analysis of charcoal present in the soil.
Our xylarium is a reference collection with more than 60 000 wood samples from all over Africa. Due to our experience and these collections, we can provide independent expertise, not limited to tropical Africa.
- identification of wood varieties by means of rough and worked objects for the wood trade and industry and the history of art and archaeology,
- dendrochronology (tree dating by studying growth rings).
In addition, we are developing capacity reinforcement programmes for African institutions.
Internally, we work together with the ichtyology and linguistics sections in the field of sustainable forest management, with the archaeology section for history of the forests and with zoology and geology for forest ecology.
The section was set up in the 1950s. At the time, its aim was the study of commercially feasible wood varieties for the international wood trade. In those days, research was mainly concentrated on identification of botanical species. Since the 1990s, we have been mainly concerned with forest ecology.