Coula edulis baill an unknown wood species as an alternative to the main durable wood species used in Gabon

IRG/WP 19-10945

C S A Bopenga Bopenga, S Dumarçay, P Edou Engonga, P Gerardin

The Congo Basin hosts an exceptional biodiversity of trees, flora and fauna. However, the immense natural heritage of the forests in this area is increasingly threatened by many anthropogenic factors, due to selective exploitation of certain wood species. In Gabon, whose ecosystem is representative of this area, the forest represents nearly 80% of the national territory. Only a minority of wood species is exploited because of their high market value (Ageos, 2015). The direct consequences of this selective exploitation are the decrease of the disponibility and even the eventual disappearance of certain wood species associated to the fast-growing international tropical timber markets. This is the case for kevazingo, which is classified as an endangered species and therefore prohibited from exploitation. In addition to these main exploited species, several less known species are available in Gabon. This is the case of the Gabonese hazelnut tree (Coula edulis baill), whose wood is used by local populations for its longevity because of its resistance to fungi, insects and more particularly termites. It is used to make forge coal and is used in the construction of huts such as posts and lintels (Moupela C et al, 2010-2013). In this context, it seemed interesting to study more in detail this species, having for the moment been the subject of little scientific investigations. The aim of this study was to investigate the natural durability of Coula edulis and the reasons of this latter one based on wood chemical composition. For this purpose, durability tests were carried out in Petri dishes on native and extracted samples of heartwood towards brown rot (Poria placenta and Coniophora puteana) and white rot (Coriolus versicolor and Pycnoporus sanguineus) fungi showing that unextracted samples presented higher durability to fungi. Fungal growth inhibition tests carried out with different concentrations of extractives confirmed their important fungicidal effects. Percentage of the different wood polymers and chemical composition of wood extractives were evaluated to find correlation between durability and wood chemistry. Results indicated that natural durability of Coula edulis could be explained by several reasons like the high density and hydrophobicity of its wood as well as its high lignin and extractives contents. Chemical analysis performed on extractives by GC-MS indicated the presence of gallic acid, quercetin and tannins.

Keywords: Coula edulis baill, durability, gabonese hazelnut, chemical composition, antifungal

Conference: 19-05-12/16 Quebec City, Canada

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