It’s a global problem. Tropical forests around the world are disappearing fast, deforestation is consuming them. Deforestation is consuming them. What to do in the face of a bleak outlook? A soil study comes to the rescue of tropical forests. It concludes that they can grow quite rapidly on abandoned farmland.
The findings were published in the journal ‘Science’. They call these spaces for developing “secondary forests”. They can play an increasingly important role in mitigating climate change. And they would help the restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems.
In many parts of the world, tropical forests have been cleared. The land is put to other uses, such as agriculture and grazing. Many of them have been gradually abandoned. And this has led to a rapid increase in forest regrowth in these regions. However, it remains difficult to understand how these forests recover. How long does it take for key forest functions to recover?
Lourens Pooter and colleagues at Wageningen University in the Netherlands looked at this. They measured patterns of forest recovery in 77 secondary forest sites. Their study included the Americas and West Africa.
Evaluated 12 soil-related attributes of the forest. Plant functioning, ecosystem structure and biodiversity were studied. It turned out that different attributes recover at different rates. But it is true that tropical forests can recover rapidly. Almost complete recovery of the soil to old growth values occurs in less than 10 years.
The plant community and species diversity recover in less than 60 years. Recovery is slower for biomass and species composition. It takes about 120 years to reach 90% of the old forest values.
The results could improve forest restoration monitoring and planning. Researchers come to the rescue of tropical forests. Their permanence on the planet may define our future.