This study assessed ecological consequences of anthropogenic pressure on Wari-Maro Forest Reserve (WMFR). The dynamics of forest cover has been assessed using a diachronic analysis of land cover maps from the Landsat satellite images of 1986, 1995 and 2006. Structural patterns of the forest has been described using forest inventory data with twenty five 1ha plots having two 50 m x 30 m plots set up inside and positioned at the opposite corners of the leading diagonal within each 1 ha plot. Established plots allowed identifying the most targeted species in illegal logging. Plots of 0.15 ha established inside each 1 ha plot helped assessing the volume of trees from which we derived carbon stock and carbon loss using conversion and expansion factors. For the two periods 1986 to 1995 and 1995 to 2006, there was a decline in forest cover which slowed down in the second decade (0.196 %.year-1 and 0.083 %.year-1 respectively). The two vegetation types of the WMFR were mainly distinguished by Lorey's mean height (12.81 m in woodland and 12.44 m in tree-savannah). Top five targeted species in illegal logging activities were: Pterocarpus erinaceus Poir., Afzelia africana Sm., Isoberlinia spp., Anogeissus leiocarpa Guill. and Daniellia oliveri (Rolfe) Hutch. & Dalziel. Results also showed mean values of carbon stock and carbon losses for the whole forest of 147.84 tons C.ha-1 and 17.57 tons C.ha-1 respectively and did not depend on vegetation type. Results from this study suggest that management strategies should focus on selectively logged species. Monitoring should also be enhanced to ensure conservation of resources of the reserve which are at high risks of extinction due to selective logging rates.
Keywords: anthropogenic pressure, forest cover, structure, carbon stock, Wari-Maro forest reserve, Benin.