Research Article: Selection of Native Tree Species for Subtropical Forest Restoration in Southwest China

Date Published: January 19, 2017

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Yang Lu, Sailesh Ranjitkar, Rhett D. Harrison, Jianchu Xu, Xiaokun Ou, Xuelan Ma, Jun He, Ben Bond-Lamberty.


The use of native species in forest restoration has been increasingly recognized as an effective means of restoring ecosystem functions and biodiversity to degraded areas across the world. However, successful selection of species adapted to local conditions requires specific knowledge which is often lacking, especially in developing countries. In order to scale up forest restoration, experimental data on the responses of native species to propagation and restoration treatments across a range of local conditions are required. In this study, the restoration potential of 34 native tree species was evaluated based on nursery research and field planting experiments at a highly degraded site in a subtropical area of southwest China. We examined species performance in terms of germination rates as well as survival rates and growth over 2 years after planting. Of the 34 species examined, 25 had a germination percentage greater than 50%. Survivorship ranged from 0 to 97% across species and was greater than 50% for 20 species. Mean monthly growth increments varied between species. Pioneer species performed well, and 14 mid- and late-successional species performed reasonably well to very well in this study. However, the remaining 16 mid- and late-successional species performed poorly. These results indicate that carefully selected mid- and late-successional species can be effectively incorporated into mixed species plantings. This data can be used to inform restoration planning, helping to identify suitable species and so enhance the biodiversity and resilience of restored forests.

Partial Text

Biodiversity conservation, ecosystem goods and services, and forest-based livelihoods are increasingly threatened by deforestation and forest degradation around the world [1]. The recent results of the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015 indicate that natural forest area declined from 3,961 to 3,721 million hectares globally between 1990 and 2015 [2]. Forest restoration is now regarded as a cornerstone of global biodiversity conservation and sustainable development [3, 4]. The Bonn Challenge, an implementation platform for many existing international commitments that require restoration, including the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Target 15, the UN REDD+ program and the New York Declaration on Forests, has set a target of restoring 150 million hectares of forest worldwide by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030 [5, 6]. While these political commitments have garnered wide support, there are huge knowledge gaps if we are to achieve the ambitious restoration targets so far agreed [6], and a set of efficient restoration approaches will be necessary to achieve these targets [7].




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