Growth performance of sixty tree species in smallholder reforestation trials on Leyte, Philippines
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- Schneider, T., Ashton, M.S., Montagnini, F. et al. New Forests (2014) 45: 83. doi:10.1007/s11056-013-9393-5
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Although many reforestation projects have attempted to mitigate deforestation in the Philippines, most have focused on planting introduced trees, often with low success rates. A smallholder-based project in the Visayas region planted native species instead. This study assessed the growth performance of forty-four native and sixteen introduced species in 25 sites established by this project between 1995 and 2000. Diameter at breast height and total height were measured for 2,789 trees. Mean annual increments for diameter (MAID) at breast height and height (MAIH) were significantly higher for trees planted on limestone-influenced soils (MAID = 1.19 cm/year; MAIH = 1.05 m/year) than on purely volcanic soils (MAID = 0.81 cm/year; MAIH = 0.78 m/year). Growth of two native species, Melia dubia and Terminalia microcarpa, was higher than that of the widely planted exotic Swietenia macrophylla. The height increment for the highest-performing dipterocarp species, Shorea guiso, Shorea contorta, and Parashorea malaanonan, was not statistically different from the MAIH of S. macrophylla. A range of soil characteristics predicted performance, with organic matter predicting growth for six species, and percent nitrogen and percent clay predicting performance of five species. These findings show that certain native species can perform better than some exotic species when planted in open areas. They also disprove the widely held belief in the Philippines that Dipterocarpaceae cannot be planted in grasslands, and suggest that dipterocarps can be used successfully in reforestation. Finally, the findings show that more research is needed on species-site matching and on silvicultural management of native species plantations.