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PLoS One. 2017 Jan 19;12(1):e0170418. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0170418. eCollection 2017.

Selection of Native Tree Species for Subtropical Forest Restoration in Southwest China.

Lu Y1,2,3, Ranjitkar S1,4, Harrison RD1,5, Xu J1,4, Ou X3, Ma X1,2, He J6,7.

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Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan, China.
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
Institute of Ecology and Geobotany, Yunnan University, Kunming, Yunnan, China.
World Agroforestry Centre, ICRAF East and Central Asia, Kunming, Yunnan, China.
World Agroforestry Centre, East and Southern Africa Region, Lusaka, Zambia.
National Centre for Borderland Ethnic Studies in Southwest China, Yunnan University, Kunming, Yunnan, China.
School of Ethnology and Sociology, Yunnan University, Kunming, Yunnan, China.


The use of native species in forest restoration has been increasingly recognized as an effective means of restoring ecosystem functions and biodiversity to degraded areas across the world. However, successful selection of species adapted to local conditions requires specific knowledge which is often lacking, especially in developing countries. In order to scale up forest restoration, experimental data on the responses of native species to propagation and restoration treatments across a range of local conditions are required. In this study, the restoration potential of 34 native tree species was evaluated based on nursery research and field planting experiments at a highly degraded site in a subtropical area of southwest China. We examined species performance in terms of germination rates as well as survival rates and growth over 2 years after planting. Of the 34 species examined, 25 had a germination percentage greater than 50%. Survivorship ranged from 0 to 97% across species and was greater than 50% for 20 species. Mean monthly growth increments varied between species. Pioneer species performed well, and 14 mid- and late-successional species performed reasonably well to very well in this study. However, the remaining 16 mid- and late-successional species performed poorly. These results indicate that carefully selected mid- and late-successional species can be effectively incorporated into mixed species plantings. This data can be used to inform restoration planning, helping to identify suitable species and so enhance the biodiversity and resilience of restored forests.

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