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Structural changes in secondary forests are less known in West Africa, and this precludes their management. This study aims at providing quantitative information on floristic composition and structure of the Lama secondary forests (Benin), so as to contribute to their restoration, and fill part of knowledge gaps on West African secondary forests. Data of 77 permanent plots each of 0.5 ha were used to analyze the floristic composition, the trajectory of the recovery and the recovery of stocking in these forests, compared to nearby old-growth forests. The results showed that the forests were less diversified with few species very common in the forest stands; the most dominant were Lonchocarpus sericeus and Anogeissus leiocarpa in the secondary forests, and Dialium guineense, Diospyros mespiliformis and Afzelia africana in the old-growth forests. The secondary forests hold more species than the mature ones. Their compositions will recover that of the original forest because species of the original forest were actively regenerating in the secondary forests. About 28 years after recovery, large trees were insufficient and basal area was about 60% of those of the mature forests. Further studies are needed to elucidate barriers to tree regeneration and dynamics of tree population.
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Keywords: Secondary forest, recovery, diversity, species composition, timber stock, Benin