Evaluation of Andean Alder as a Catalyst for the Recovery of Tropical Cloud Forests in Colombia

Evaluation of Andean Alder as a Catalyst for the Recovery of Tropical Cloud Forests in Colombia


This study compares the species composition and structural diversity of 30-year-old alder plantations with adjacent, naturally regenerated forests of the same age. The study seeks to determine if alder plantations are an appropriate catalyst for forest regeneration for conserving biological diversity and to determine if the differences between the two forest types are maintained over time.

Research Goals & Methods

The two forest types are compared based on measurements of species diversity, DBH, stem diameter and canopy cover, and estimates of crown height and understory leaf area.

Conclusions & Takeaways

Alder plantations are found to have a taller, even canopy (18-22m), while the naturally regenerated forest plots exhibit a shorter, uneven canopy (14-25m). Alder plantations are also observed to have two distinct strata, with a nearly foliage-free gap between the understory and the canopy (composed almost entirely of the crowns of alder trees), whereas, the naturally regenerated forest exhibits no obvious vertical stratification. The average stem density and basal area is the same for the two forest type, and no relationship was found between the two canopy types and understory leaf area. With regard to species diversity, the naturally regenerated plots were found to be significantly more diverse and spatially heterogeneous, with one-half of the species present in the two plots exclusive to the naturally regenerated forest and one-eighth exclusive to the alder plots.




Murcia C. Evaluation of Andean alder as a catalyst for the recovery of tropical cloud forests in Colombia. Forest Ecology and Management. 1997;99:163–170. doi:10.1016/s0378-1127(97)00202-8.


  • Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, New York, NY, USA
  • Fundación Ecoandina, Cali, Colombia