When discovering the Paracou experiment, it is essential to keep in mind the initial questions addressed by the Paracou Project, as they explain initial choices which today may appear restrictive. The centre of interest in 1982 was clearly the timber resource and its sustainable renewal. Looking back, considerable insight was gained into the dynamics of the stands of the coastal rainforests, which now form the basis of forest management decisions made by the National Forest Office (ONF) in charge of most of the forests in French Guiana.
In addition, the questions posed to and by the scientific community largeley evolved during the last decades with the increasing awareness of the potential value of tropical forest ecosystems, and the links between biodiversity and the functioning of the ecosystem. This led to the establishment of various complementary experiments/plots in time:
- 1991: the biodiversity plots
- 1992: the regeneration plots
- 2004: the Guyaflux tower
- 2005: the Guyafor network
- 2015: the fertilization plots
These new long-term sources of information have been cornerstones for the development of original scientific projects initiated in ecological , genetic, population dynamic, ecophysiological or ecosystem science studies at the same site, thus enlarging in time the observations and data gathered at Paracou.
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In 1984, the Cirad team set up 12 square 9ha plots, among which 9 were subjected to logging induced disturbances in 1986-1988.
In 1990-1992, four new plots (3 * 6.25ha + 1 * 25ha) were set up for biodiversity monitoring. No destructive sampling have been authorized at all in these plots.
Guyaflux has been generating data since 2003 to determine the ecosystem CO2 source or sink strengths.
The natural regeneration of 25 selected tree species has been monitored inside circular sub-plots of 8m radii, located on a systematic grid inside each plot 1 to 12.
In 2015, 12 new 50*50m plots were set up to test the effect of effects of nutrient enrichment on ecosystem processes.
Guyafor is a network of forest research permanent plots dedicated to long term studies in forest dynamics and biodiversity.