In the heart of the limba tree (Terminalia superba Engl.

& Diels): detection methods for heart rot and false heartwood
De Ridder, M.1,2, Van den Bulcke, J.1, Beeckman, H.2 and Van Acker, J.1
Laboratory of Wood Technology, Ghent University, Belgium 2 Laboratory for Wood Biology and Xylarium, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium

E-mail: Introduction and objectives
Limba (Terminalia superba Engl. & Diels) is a commercial tree species with large buttresses, typically found in secondary forests and fallows but also in plantations in Bas Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo). The presence of heart rot in older trees and the formation of so-called limba noir or false heartwood alters the popularity of this species. The incidence of these two wood anomalies makes limba a very suitable species for the study of detection methods for heart rot as well as wood discolorations. This study is set up within the framework of sustainable forest management of tropical forests: detection of anomalies before exploitation prevents useless cutting and the loss of trees with an ecological function as e.g. seed trees. This implies certain requirements for detection methods: in situ applicable, inexpensive, fairly quick and easy to interpret. Two of the methods that meet all requirements are selected: resistance and acoustic detection methods. This case study wants to answer the following questions:

(a) Are resistance and acoustic methods able to detect rot and/or wood discolorations like limba noir? (b) Which factors influence the measurements (density, buttresses, diameter)?

Material & methods
Velocity measurements - Fakopp Microsecond Timer (μs) (5 repetitions per measurement) - Circumference (cm) - Also on other tropical species Resistance measurements - IML Resi B400 (%) - Resistance values every 0.04 mm + 2 or 4 wood cores per sample tree + pictures + description of health status General study - Plantations near Luki (58 year) - 87 sample trees - heart rot but no limba noir Detailed study - Secondary forest near Tshela - 5 sample trees (8 stem disks) - heart rot and limba noir

Results & discussion General study
- Resistance profiles are hard to interpret due to irregular density variations - Range of normal velocity values: 1000-1650 m s-1 - Velocity outliers: < 1000 m s-1: heavily rotten or hollow trees (< 4 %) > 1650 m s-1: presence of large buttresses (< 2 %) - Mean velocity: 1288 ± 120 m s-1 - Problems?  Small rotten zones aren’t detected by resistance or velocity measurements  No clear correspondence between resistance profiles and velocity: Stem disk of the 3rd tree (cavity surrounded by rot)

Detailed study
Stem disk of the 7th tree (limba noir)

Interpolation of 16 resistance profiles by inverse distance weighing (%)

Two resistance profiles of tree 8 show a large rotten/hollow zone with low velocity (ca. 850 m s-1).

Interpolation of travel times based on the algorithm of Giroux et al. (2007) (10-5 s)

This relation is not found in tree 27. Resistance profile B has a low velocity (917 m s-1) but shows no large differences with resistance profile A.

- Influences?  Diameter & velocity: linear regression: V = 514.16 D + 1030.5 (R²=0.19) (!)  Density & velocity: logarithmic regression: V = 866.77 ln(ρ) + 1941.96 (R²=0.66, based on limba and 8 other African tree species)  Buttresses, velocity and resistance: depending on location sample spot

 Resistance 2D-visualizations are capable of detecting: - decayed areas (decreased resistance) - limba noir (ring with higher resistance at the border of the dark heart)  Acoustic 2D-visualizations do not reveal heart rot or limba noir Measurements on standing trees are difficult (reconstruction of tree shape) but recommended: stem disks often have cracks, causing inaccuracies.

Conclusion & perspectives
(a) Acoustic measurements are recommended for quick diagnosis of moderate to severe heart rot and cavities. Reconstructions with 16 resistance profiles are suggested to localize heart rot and detect limba noir. (b) The influence of diameter and density on velocity is significant (p < 0.001). Buttresses influence velocity as well as resistance measurements.
Further research will focus on: - density profiles of wood cores, stem disks and buttresses (neutron and microCT scanning) to analyze the relation with the 2 methods - the detection of smaller rotten zones within the lower range of velocities (1050-1200 m s-1) - the preprocessing of travel times and the reconstruction of velocity measurements - the causes of a positive correlation between diameter and velocity within even-aged stands (!)
Acknowledgements This PhD-research project is funded by VLIR-UOS and is a collaboration between the Ghent University , the Royal Museum for Central Africa, INBO (Belgium), WWF (Belgium and DRC) and Soforma (DRC). Reference Giroux, B., Gloaguen, E., and Chouteau, M. (2007): bh_tomo - A matlab borehole georadar 2D tomography package. Comput. Geosci. 33: 126-137.