Native Species: A Resource for the Diversification of Forestry Production in the Lowland Humid Tropics

Native Species: A Resource for the Diversification of Forestry Production in the Lowland Humid Tropics


This research evaluates the success of native species for reforestation plantings in Costa Rica in comparison with exotic species.

Research Goals & Methods

At La Selva Biological Station, 80 species were planted in mixed stands of 8-12 species between 1987 and 1990. Growth characteristics and form for timber quality were collected for each species at 3 and 6 years after planting.

Conclusions & Takeaways

Of the top 20 species based on volume, 14 were native and 6 exotic. The top two were Gmelina arborea and Acacia mangium. However, the these exotics began to show decline due to termites (A. mangium) and nectria cankers (G. arborea). Other exotics, including Pinus species, Eucalyptus species, and Tectona grandis showed poor performance, possibly due to the lack of dry season. The best of the natives were Ochroma pyramidale, Goethalsia meiantha, Vochysia guatemalensis and Sclerolobium guianensis. Terminalia amazonia, Stryphnodendron excelsum and Vochysia species had sufficient form an growth to be good for plantations. The authors assert that although exotics may show potential early in plantation establishment, over time they are not as well adapted to the conditions as native species. Instead, the native species, with similar wood properties, should be used for plantations. The native species with the highest growth and best form may be best for timber plantations, but if a wider range of management goals are included in the reforestation, a diversity of native species can be useful.


Haggar JP, Briscoe CB, Butterfield RP. Native species: a resource for the diversification of forestry production in the lowland humid tropics. Forest Ecology and Management. 1998;106:195–203. doi:10.1016/s0378-1127(97)00311-3.


  • Organization for Tropical Studies, San Pedro, Costa Rica
  • CATIE (Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza), Turrialba, Costa Rica
  • ARD, Burlington, VT, USA