To find out what works best for reestablishing tropical dry forests, the researchers planted seedlings of 32 native tree species in degraded soil or degraded soil amended with sand, rice hulls, rice hull ash or hydrogel.
The good news: Recognizing the incredible value of forests in providing habitat, storing carbon dioxide, purifying water and more, people around the world are working to restore forests destroyed in the past by human activities such as logging and farming. The bad news: In some places, it’s practically impossible.
Among the toughest forests to regenerate are tropical dry forests, species-rich ecosystems found near the equator in regions that experience alternating wet and dry seasons. Over the past century most of these forests, which help keep water clean and provide valuable habitat for wildlife, were replaced by farms and cattle pastures. Now, as conservationists work to replant deforested areas, they’re finding that the already challenging, high-clay soils underlying them have been degraded to an extent that makes it hard for tree seedlings to sink their roots.
A new study led by graduate student Leland Werden and associate professor Jennifer Powers of the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences has uncovered some valuable information on ways to maximize the success of replanting efforts, bringing new hope for restoring these threatened ecosystems. The study was reported September 22 in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
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