Matthew Bare, MF

2013 TRI Fellow in Ecuador & Colombia

Tree Growth in Montane Forest Restoration Sites of the Tropical Andes

The tropical Andes of Ecuador and Colombia, an ecologically unique high-altitude tropical ecosystem, has undergone extensive development and deforestation, and little native forest cover remains outside of protected areas. Through a combination of land abandonment, increased support for ecological restoration, and increased support for potentially ecologically friendly agroforestry systems, restoration sites have multiplied. As communities, local governments and NGOs continue to implement forest restoration activities, detailed silvicultural background and species growth information is necessary for effective project planning. This research measures the growth of native tree plantings in the in the Andean region of Colombia and Ecuador in a gradient of ecological conditions and soils. Approximately 900 trees were measured in 15 restoration sites. Tree growth will be compared with soil conditions including nutrient availability, organic matter, cation exchange capacity, acidity, and texture, in addition to ecological variables. Native tree growth rates in the restoration sites are compared with the literature on conventional native and exotic plantation species. Results will provide baseline information for tree growth rates and survival in varying soil conditions encountered in likely restoration sites. Overall, findings also provide an overview of the state of the art of restoration in the northern tropical Andes, offering insight into the scale and reach of active restoration projects in the context of current forest cover trends.