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There are conflicting demands on bamboo (Yushania alpina (K. Schum.) Lin.) in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (Virunga
Volcanoes), Uganda. Local people lost legal access to bamboo when the park was gazette in 1991 - but still request harvesting
rights. Bamboo sprouts provide a key food for conservation signif-icant Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) and African
golden monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis kandti).
We examined the impact of a localised harvest of mature bamboo on the production of new stems. We used a grid of 540
variable area plots to record and assess 9420 stems (including 1268 cut stems) and 1981 sprouts. Mean densities were 3.96 stems
m2 and 0.68 sprouts m2. Densities and diameters were lower in areas with tree shade compared to those without. Densities of new
stems were positively related to densities of older stems. Diameters of young stems were positively correlated with the diameters
of older stems but younger stems were, in general, significantly larger. Cutting of mature stems had no detectable impact on either
the density or diameter of subsequent new stems. Statistical power analysis adapted from pharmaceutical assessments indicates
that a minor positive or negative impact remains possible (a positive effect appears more probable).We conclude that the bamboo
is in a ??building phase??, that densities and sizes of young stems are determined by the extent of the underground rhizome, and
that this plot relationship is not detectably influenced by harvesting older stems. Nonetheless, negative impacts may arise with
repeated harvesting. Guidelines for future harvest are suggested.
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