One of the biggest challenges for tropical agroforesters is the restoration and revegetation of lands that have been degraded or cleared. Past issues of The Overstory have addressed pioneering degraded lands (#22), succession plantings to make use of the stages of forest plantings (#10), and ways to improve habitat and attract wildlife to agroforestry plantings (#21). In this issue, guest author Imants Pone of the University of Minnesota introduces the concept of "foster ecosystems"--using tree plantations to facilitate the natural regeneration of native species in their understories. Through findings from Puerto Rico, Amazonia, and the Philippines, Imants shows how plantations can be used to foster the reintroduction of native species.
Creating Foster Ecosystems to Accelerate Tropical Forest Regeneration
Moist tropical forests are some of the most productive areas on Earth, but since most nutrients and biomass are stored above ground, cleared land quickly loses its productivity. What is left are open fields dominated by shrubs and grasses in which the forest is slow to regenerate. The methods described in this paper are designed to accelerate natural regeneration in cleared tropical forests through the use of plantations as "foster ecosystems."