Impact Of Forest Disturbance On Woody Species Diversity: A Comparative Study Among Forest Zones In Western Ethiopia
Increasing human disturbance is known to affect the plant biodiversity of forest resources.
This study aimed to assess the effect of disturbance gradients on the woody species diversity
in a Chato natural forest across three disturbance gradients, increasing from the core zone,
over the buffer zone to the transition zone in western Ethiopia. The study also compared the
structure of woody species among the forest management zones. A total of 75 samples were
selected using stratified random sampling procedures to collect data on woody species
diversity and associated population structures. A total of 76 species belonged to 41 families or
specifically where about 63, 44, and 43 were recorded from Core, Buffer, and Transition
zones, respectively. In general, diversity declined across increased forest disturbance
gradients. The mean diversity (p<.0001) and distribution (P<.0001) of woody species was
significantly highest in the forest core zone. The mean density per plot (9295±193 stem ha-1)
and basal area (2.05 ± 0.27 m2 ha-1) in the Core zone was significantly highest. Generally, the
study showed that the variation in the disturbance degree of the three forest zones affected the
diversity of the forest. Therefore, preservation of natural regeneration and a balance among
seedlings, saplings, and canopy trees should be maintained in buffer and transition zones.