Vegetation structure and regeneration status of the western escarpment of the rift valley of the Gamo zone, southern Ethiopia
Understanding the structure and regeneration of forest resources contributes to identifying the elements of diversity, endemism, threatened and endangered species. This study was conducted in the western escarpment of the Rift valley of the Gamo Zone, Southern Ethiopia. The main objective was to investigate the structure and regeneration status of the study area. A systematic sampling method was used to collect vegetation data from 102 quadrats, each 20 × 20 m (400 m2) and five 1 × 1 m (1 m2) sub-quadrats at the four corners and the center for sapling and seedling estimation. Tree and shrub species were listed; Height (H ≥ 1.5 m) and DBH ≥ 2 cm were measured and recorded. R-statically software and Microsoft Excel were used to record and analyze the data. A total of 126 plant species belonging to 43 families and 90 genera were identified. The most dominant families were Fabaceae, followed by Anacardiaceae and Euphorbiaceae. The most frequent species were Euclea divinorum (84.3%), followed by Rhus natalensis (83.3%), Terminalia brownii (74.5%). DBH class ≤ 5cm had the highest density (63.6%), and DBH ≥ 25.1 cm had the lowest density (0.87%). Three population patterns have been observed; inverted J, J-shaped, and irregular shaped. 93% of species had IVI values b/n 1-4, 65% of species IVI values <1, and 7% had IVI values ≥ 5.28. Pappea capensis, Combretum molle, Terminalia brownii, Euclea divinorum had the highest IVI values. The lower story was 91.3% of the individuals in the vertical stratification. Only a few species contributed to the high density of saplings (440.2/ha) and seedlings (825.49/ha), while most had very little or no saplings and seedlings at all. Thus, to revert the current forest structure and regeneration to the previous natural state, it is considered important to minimize the influence of human interference, grazing, and raising awareness to the surrounding community.