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Research article2020Peer reviewed

Effects of native tree planting on soil recovery in tropical montane cloud forests

Mendoza-Vega, Jorge; Ku-Quej, Victor M. ; Messing, Ingmar; Pérez-Jiménez , Juan Carlos


The tropical montane cloud forest is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth and is one of the areas most threatened by anthropogenic disturbance. This study assessed the temporal impact on soil properties (organi << arbon, total nitrogen, cation exchange capacity, bulk density) following establishment of native tree species in two degraded tropical montane cloud forest areas with different soil types and land-use intensities in south-east Mexico. In Pueblo Nuevo, Chiapas, Pinus chiapensis and Alnus spp. were established at two sites with humic Nitisols with low and moderate disturbance levels, respectively. In Xalapa, Veracruz, plum pine (Podounpus rnatudae), American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), Oaxaca walnut (Juglans pyriformis Liebm.), and sweetgum (tiquidambar styraciflua) were established on a grassland-covered humic Andosol with a high level of disturbance. After 16 years, soil properties had generally improved, although in the initial years after planting, the values declined, indicating a possible negative impact because of disturbance during tree establishment. Land-use intensity prior to tree establishment influenced the level of recovery in soil properties. The Pueblo Nuevo sites, with low to moderate disturbance levels, regained soil quality faster than the highly disturbed Xalapa site, despite better initial soil quality in the latter.Study Implications: In Mexico, most of the forest is owned by indigenous peoples who often clear the forest to produce staple food. For some decades, the Mexican government has been concerned with the high rate of deforestation in the country. Therefore, and with the intention of halting this problem, it encourages forest owners to plant trees through subsidy programs regulated by the Forest National Council (CONAFOR). The results of the present study, which are important in terms of soil and forest restoration management, could be used by CONAFOR in subsidized reforestation programs and in similar projects in other countries with similar bio-physical and socioeconomic conditions. The results could also be used by forestry technicians from the communities that own the forests.


forest restoration; long-term trial; soil organic carbon; soil properties; soil temporal variation

Published in

Forest Science
2020, Volume: 66, number: 6, pages: 700–711

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG15 Life on land

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Soil Science

    Publication identifier


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