Biodiversity: Tree plantations with numerous species develop higher than monocultures

Forests can produce extra timber or retailer extra carbon in the event that they include a mix of tree species, in line with an evaluation of 273 research all over the world


19 May 2022

Mediterranean forest dominated by evergreen Holm oak (Quercus ilex), with deciduous trees coming into leaf in spring. Liendo Valley, Montana Oriental Costera, Cantabria, Spain. April 2019.

A forest in Spain containing evergreen and deciduous bushes


Timber-producing tree plantations that include at the least two completely different tree species develop higher than these with only a single species. The discovering means that growing species variety in areas of reforestation can enhance the quantity of wooden produced and carbon saved.

“Foresters often prefer monoculture plantations because of lower planting and management costs. By demonstrating substantial benefits of multispecies plantations across a broad range of conditions, our study [helps to] identify planting strategies that optimise the benefits of forest plantations,” says Shaopeng Wang at Peking University in Beijing.

Wang and his colleagues analysed tree development knowledge from 273 earlier research that coated a complete of 243 species utilized in 255 plantations all over the world. The workforce in contrast tree development between monoculture and multispecies plantations that had been grown in the identical areas, for a similar period of time and with the identical planting density.

This revealed that bushes grown alongside at the least one different species had been 5.4 per cent taller, 6.8 per cent wider and had round 25 per cent extra above-ground mass in contrast with these in plots with only one species.

Further evaluation by the workforce revealed that species tended to profit extra after they had been grown beside bushes that had oppositely formed leaves – both broad or needle-shaped. They additionally discovered that deciduous bushes, which drop their leaves within the autumn, benefitted from being subsequent to evergreen bushes, which hold their leaves all yr, and vice versa.

“Our results showed that differences in leaf shape and leaf lifespan underpin stronger [co-benefits] within mixtures of tree species,” says Wang. The workforce suggests that is in all probability as a result of bushes can entry sources extra simply after they have completely different must neighbouring bushes.

The researchers additionally explored whether or not plantations containing bushes which have completely different, slightly than the identical, nitrogen-acquiring methods improved tree development, however discovered they didn’t.

The findings counsel that rising a mixture of bushes with completely different leaf properties may allow reforested land to provide timber or retailer carbon extra effectively. This technique can also cut back the biodiversity impacts of lumber plantations.

“Forests of native trees will always provide better protection to biodiversity, and to the ecological benefits to humans, compared to any kind of lumber plantation, but higher diversity plantations could potentially come at lower costs to these critical benefits,” says Jessica Gurevitch on the University of Arizona.

Journal reference: Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.abm6363

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