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Anales del Instituto de la Patagonia

On-line version ISSN 0718-686X


BANNISTER, Jan R. Forest restoration is more tan tree planting: Lessons learned after restoring Pilgerodendron uviferum forests during 7 years in Chiloé. Anales Instituto Patagonia (Chile) [online]. 2015, vol.43, n.1, pp.35-51. ISSN 0718-686X.

Seven years ago we commenced a long-term research project on Chiloé Island, North Patagonia, dealing with the study of disturbed and undisturbed Pilgerodendron uviferum forests, in order to develop the ecological basis for future conservation and restoration strategies of the species. Using a multi-scaled approach, we focussed research on three aspects of restoration a) understanding the ecological processes occurring in undisturbed forests of the species; b) analysing the natural rate of recovery of disturbed forests of the species, and c) exploring some options for the restoration of these forests. Our results show that P. uviferum is a stress-tolerant conifer that can tolerate extremely wet conditions, yet suffer from stress when grown in the open, and therefore the recovery of the species after fires is extremely slow. At the landscape level, seventy years after stand replacing fires there are vast areas without seed trees of the species, and their dissemination potential is extremely limited. Therefore, restoration planting to complement existing seed trees may assist natural recovery of P. uviferum in disturbed bog forests and add genetic diversity. In this context, we suggest a mixed passive-active restoration strategy, relying on naturally regenerated parent trees complemented through cluster planting. Furthermore, the multi-scale approach used in our research, that studied the underlying ecological and physiological processes occurring in disturbed and undisturbed sites prior to planning a restoration program, could be adopted for other ecosystems with low resilience and high degradation, where restoration is likely to be extremely expensive and the outcome uncertain.

Keywords : Bog forests; seed tres; biological legacies; mixed restoration strategies; spatial patterns.

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