Ecological prerequisites for successful reforestation of degraded tropical peatlands
Reference: Dissertationes Forestales 263, PhD Thesis, University of Helsinki
Authors: Lampela, M.
Abstract: Tropical peatlands of South East Asia are major hotspots of biodiversity and great carbon stores. The main peat forming ecosystem is tropical peat swamp forest (TPSF) growing on top of meters deep peat. Forest degradation by vast scale land conversions and consequent pernicious impacts on the environment have raised an urgent need for conservation and restoration. This dissertation concentrates firstly on the peat soil properties, ground surface microtopograhy and vegetation patterns of the natural TPSF, and secondly on the vegetation restoration, i.e. reforestation of degraded tropical peatland. In the studied natural TPSF type, the forest floor can be characterized as an irregular continuum of less common hummocks and more abundant flat low-lying surface where most of the peat surface is not inundated for most of the year. Unlike in the boreal and temperate peatlands, the ground surface microtopography had no regular patterning. The surface peat structure and chemistry had differences in relation to the surface microtopography. Higher surfaces had higher nutrient concentrations and saplings and trees were concentrated on higher surfaces whereas seedlings emerge in all ground surface elevations. In the open degraded former TPSF area we tested 21 native tree species for their potential for reforestation in a planting experiment. We increased the knowledge on the species’ early stages flood and drought tolerances, species’ suitability for different conditions in reforestation areas and suitable species-specific seedling height for planting. For five species with known potential for reforestation purposes we tested the impact of three site preparation treatments, weeding, fertilizing and mounding, on the seedling performance. We analyzed also the effects of wildfires which caught the study area two years after planting. With increased knowledge on both natural TPSF ecology and the seedling experiments on degraded areas, we could specify environmental condition requirements for several tree species for reforestation.
Key words: peat properties, water table, restoration, peat swamp forest, site preparation, peat fires
Link 1: https://doi.org/10.14214/df.263