Restoration plantings of non-pioneer tree species in open fields, young secondary forests, and rubber plantations in Bahia, Brazil

Piotto, Flesher, Nunes, Rolim, Ashton, Montagnini 2020

Download article

Abstract: The Atlantic forest of Brazil is a biodiversity hotspot that retains less than 12% of its original area. In this biome, non-pioneer tree species with limited dispersal are the most impacted by recent habitat loss and fragmentation. As attempts to establish non-pioneer tree species in pastures and agricultural fields in the Atlantic forest have failed, restoration strategies that consider planting these species in other habitats, such as the understory of secondary forests and tree plantations may be more successful. To test this, five native non-pioneer tree species (Sloanea obtusifolia, Garcinia macrophylla, Copaifera lucens, Symphonia globulifera, and Pouteria reticulata) were planted in complete randomized blocks in April 2009, with four site replications and four treatments (open fields, open fields with pioneers, young secondary forests, and rubber plantations). Survival, height, and dbh (diameter at the breast height) were measured every year for six years. We also measured canopy cover and soil physical and chemical parameters. Six years after planting, we found similar survival of non-pioneer tree species in open fields, young secondary forests and within rubber plantations. However, height and dbh growth were, in general, significantly higher in open fields. Planting pioneer species in mixture with non-pioneers did not improve the growth of non-pioneers. We also found differences among species, with Copaifera lucens showing higher survival and growth than the other species. Even though enriched young secondary forests and rubber plantations could be important contributors to biodiversity conservation, higher growth rates of non-pioneer species in open fields have the benefit of accelerating the recovery of wildlife activity in restoration plantings.

Keywords: forest restoration, enrichment planting, growth, survival, tropical moist forest