Aquilaria malaccensis (Thymelaeaceae) is the principal source of gaharu, one of the most valuable tropical forest products in international trade. Despite its economic importance, the autecology of this species is virtually unknown. Seedling growth and survival of A. malaccensis was monitored over a 15-month period in natural forest in West Kalimantan. Mean height growth rate was 21.2 + 2.3 cm year1, and was positively related to light availability (i^= 0.79, p < 0.001), but unrelated to distance to the nearest mature tree or seedling density. By the end of the observation period, fewer than 20% of seedlings surveyed initially were still alive, trampling and cutting being one of the main causes of mortality. A nursery experiment examined the influence of soil (two treatments), light availability (four treatments) and seedling density (four treatments) on growth. Although a decrease in irradiance was associated with significantly (p < 0.01, t - test) lower values for height and stem diameter, seedlings were able to survive under the low light treatment. Lower height growth rates and leaf increment were observed with higher seedling densities on the more fertile soil; no such effects of density were observed on the relatively infertile soil. The implications of these results for the sustainable management of A. malaccensis are discussed.
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