Aerts, R., A. Negussie, W. Maes, E. November, M. Hermy and B. Muys
Shrubs are often considered competitive barriers for seedlings planted in reforestation programs, although they can facilitate tree recruitment, especially in ecosystems under high abiotic stress. An alternative reforestation technique using pioneer shrubs as nurse-plants for Olea europaea ssp. cuspidata was tested in exclosures in northern Ethiopia. Seedlings were planted in three different microhabitats, and their survival was monitored. Planting under shrubs may increase seedling survival and assist regeneration of dry Afromontane vegetation. Preserving pioneers also reduces soil erosion and conserves biodiversity. Excluding livestock is essential for Olea woodland restoration and allows persistent but morphologically modified Olea shrubs to develop vigorous regrowth. Facilitative processes are guiding principles for assisted forest restoration, but above-average rains may be critical to restore higher biomass levels in semiarid areas.