Growth of native tree species planted in montane reforestation projects in the Colombian and Ecuadorian Andes differs among site and species
Tropical Andes in Columbia and Ecuador have been affected by forest clearance and degradation for several centuries. Agriculture has been the primary driver of land use change as well as mining to a lesser extent. To restore the degraded sites, native species have been used in various projects, however with little information on growth performance of the planted tree species in relation to site and soil nutrient status. A greater part of the northern Andes has volcanic ash derived soils.
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The Jose Celestino Mutis Botanic Garden of Bogota works with the Municipal government of Bogota in order to restore and rehabilitate various areas of forest habitat around the city of Bogota.
The most extensive plantings are conducted in the Cerros Orientales, hills located on the outskirts of Bogota. This very steep mountain area had been cleared and was subject to severe erosion, and was planted with exotic pine and eucalyptus throughout the 19th and 20th century. Parts of this forest continue to be grazed for cattle, and many areas have also been invaded by the invasive European gorse (Ulex europaeus).
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This project attempts to restore riparian forest along the headwaters of the Rio Bogota, upstream of the city of Bogota.
Since 2003, the Fundacion al verde vivo has worked with volunteers to plant trees along the riparian corridor. Many areas along the riverbanks were previously used for cattle pasture, leather tanneries, or other small constructions. Local laws require that certain distances of riparian buffer are maintained as forest, but these regulations are rarely enforced.
Plantings are conducted in rows with 1-2 meter spacing. Alnus plantings from 2005 form a canopy, and mid-successional species of oak, Spanish cedar, and other highland Andean trees are planted in gaps and in the understory.
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