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The taxonomy, ecology and utilisation of African rattans (Palmae: Calamoideae)

Sunderland, Terence Christopher Heesom; (2001) The taxonomy, ecology and utilisation of African rattans (Palmae: Calamoideae). Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis presents the findings of a multi-disciplinary study of the taxonomy, ecology and utilisation of the rattans of the lowland tropical forests of Africa. Based on extensive field-work and herbarium study, and through the application of a morphological species concept, a taxonomic revision is presented. Twenty species, including two new species, representing four rattan genera, are described and illustrated. Ecological studies undertaken as part of this study allows assessments to be made of edaphic and climatic factors affecting rattan diversity and abundance. Further field study of the life history of these taxa has clarified the occurrence of hapaxanthy and pleonanthy within the rattan genera. Additional ecological work has focussed on the interaction of rattan species with their wider environment. In particular, the complex relationship between forest fauna and rattan is presented in detail. The findings of extensive ethnobotanical surveys of rattan use by selected local communities are presented. These surveys conclude that very few of the known species are actually of any significant use value. This study of local usage enables a conceptual framework of the indigenous classification systems for rattan, employed by forest-based communities, to be discussed and presented. A brief overview of the wider rattan trade in Africa highlights the economic importance of rattan as a forest resource. A more detailed analysis of the socioeconomic nature of the formal rattan trade Cameroon concludes that, whilst contributing significantly to the forest economy, the uncontrolled nature of the trade is leading to an increasingly scarce resource base. The final Chapter summarises the findings of the thesis and discusses the framework for the sustainable exploitation of rattan in Africa. The ecological, social and institutional criteria that need to be met before strategies for sustainability can be implemented are discussed in detail.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The taxonomy, ecology and utilisation of African rattans (Palmae: Calamoideae)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10101812
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