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Rubin Sagar , Ariadna Mondragon-Botero , Vanessa Winchester
Tropical Dry Forests (TDF) are the most endangered tropical forest ecosystem. This holds true for TDF in Madagascar, where almost 42% of their original forest cover has been lost. Remaining forests are increasingly being fragmented and degraded due to human and natural impacts, resulting in biodiversity loss. Forest restoration projects have been proposed as an option to reverse this situation. However, prolonged periods of drought and variable rainfall regimes in the TDF make restoration projects challenging, and knowledge about best restoration practices are lacking. Our research project was set up to fill in some of those knowledge gaps, allowing us to elucidate which species and which planting distances were associated with the highest seedling survival and growth during the initial phases of a TDF restoration trial. We set up 3 forest restoration plots in the TDF at Berenty Reserve in Madagascar. A total of 1354 seedlings of 24 species were planted at two different planting distances (1 and 1.5m). Seedling height, canopy breadth, stem diameter, and mortality were measured for three years. We found that lower planting distance explained faster growth rates and enhanced survival in the first three years of the experiment, making planting distance an important variable to consider when planning and implementing future restoration projects in the dry forest. Our data also show which common native species thrive best. Results from this trial will guide future restoration projects in the reserve and can serve as a reference for other TDF in Madagascar and around the globe.
Conference Presentation, SER2021
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program