Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Reforestation research in Latin America helps build better forests

Date:
May 17, 2011
Source:
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Summary:
A new special issue of Forest Ecology and Management features lessons learned from 20 years of tropical reforestation research in Latin America.

Diogenes Ibarra measures the growth of native tree saplings to see how they perform in different environmental settings in Panama.
Credit: STRI archives

A tropical forest is easy to cut down, but getting it back is another story. In a special issue of the journal Forest Ecology and Management, leading researchers at the Smithsonian in Panama and across Latin America offer new insights on reforestation based on 20 years of research.

Related Articles


"Twenty years ago, we had almost no information about how to build a forest," said Jefferson Hall, staff scientist at the Smithsonian and lead editor of the new special issue of Forest Ecology and Management. "People either planted one of four non-native species -- teak, pine, eucalyptus or acacia -- or they used a trial-and-error process with other species that was not always successful. Now we can be smart about which trees we plant at a given site, and we understand much more about what motivates land owners and rural farmers to put this know-how to work."

Forests keep water clean, control soil erosion, store carbon, shelter animals and provide plants that offer pharmacological benefits. Forests also contribute to global-scale economic activity in the form of ecosystem services. The Agua Salud project in the Panama Canal watershed, funded by the HSBC Climate Partnership and featured in the special issue, is a 700-hectare experiment that examines the ecosystem services forests provide: water for people and the Canal, carbon storage to mitigate global warming and biodiversity protection in one of the crucial biological corridors between North and South America.

"Native tropical forests are some of the richest storehouses on earth," said Eldredge Bermingham, director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. "Now the science behind tropical forest restoration is at a level of sophistication that reforestation projects can be planned to target multiple goals -- to store carbon, manage water and conserve biodiversity, buffer old-growth forests from destruction and provide a strong return on investment."

Managing forests for ecosystem services requires tradeoffs. A hectare of teak stores as much carbon as a native forest after 20 years, but will shelter far less biodiversity. In the Agua Salud experiment researchers plant mixtures of native species. Their data predict that some mixtures will surpass the carbon-storage capability of teak and the ability to support other plants and animals.

Plantation soils in one experiment lost a huge amount of carbon in less than 10 years. Another experiment not far away showed soil-carbon levels under similarly aged secondary forest did not change. This juxtaposition suggests that while secondary forests may not store as much aboveground carbon as carefully tended plantations, they do a better job of maintaining soil carbon stocks. The information highlights potential tradeoffs in ecosystem services with land management and points the way to the next generation of ecosystem service research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jefferson S. Hall, Mark S. Ashton, Eva J. Garen, Shibu Jose. The ecology and ecosystem services of native trees: Implications for reforestation and land restoration in Mesoamerica. Forest Ecology and Management, 2011; 261 (10): 1553 DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2010.12.011

Cite This Page:

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. "Reforestation research in Latin America helps build better forests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110517132642.htm>.
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. (2011, May 17). Reforestation research in Latin America helps build better forests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110517132642.htm
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. "Reforestation research in Latin America helps build better forests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110517132642.htm (accessed March 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Clean-Up Follows Deadly Weather in Okla.

Clean-Up Follows Deadly Weather in Okla.

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) Gov. Mary Fallin has declared a state of emergency for 25 Oklahoma counties after powerful storms rumbled across the state causing one death, numerous injuries and widespread damage. (March 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least Four Dead After Floods in Northern Chile

At Least Four Dead After Floods in Northern Chile

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) At least four people have been killed by severe flooding in northern Chile after rains battered the Andes mountains and swept into communities below. Rob Muir reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Oklahomans "devastated" By Tornado Damage

Oklahomans "devastated" By Tornado Damage

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 26, 2015) Buildings and homes lay in ruins and a semi-truck gets flipped following a fierce tornado that left at least one person dead. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tornado Tears Through Oklahoma Town

Tornado Tears Through Oklahoma Town

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 26, 2015) Aerial video shows the moment a tornado ripped across the town of Moore, Oklahoma, sending sparks flying. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins