Restoration of Tropical Moist Forests on Bauxite-Mined Lands in the Brazilian Amazon

Authors


Abstract

We evaluated forest structure and composition in 9- to 13-year-old stands established on a bauxite-mined site at Trombetas (Pará), Brazil, using four different reforestation techniques following initial site preparation and topsoil replacement. These techniques included reliance on natural forest regeneration, mixed commercial species plantings of mostly exotic timber trees, direct seeding with mostly native early successional tree species, and mixed native species plantings of more than 70 tree species (the current operational restoration treatment at this site). Replicated fixed-radius plots in each treatment and in undisturbed primary forest were used to quantify the canopy and understory structure and the abundance and diversity of all vascular plant species. Treatment comparisons considered regeneration density, species richness and diversity for all floristic categories, and, for trees and shrubs, the relative contribution of initial planting and subsequent regeneration from soil seed banks and seed inputs from nearby primary forests. With the possible exception of the stands of mixed commercial species, which were superior to all others in terms of tree basal-area development but relatively poor in species richness, all treatments were structurally and floristically diverse, with a high probability of long-term restoration success. Of these, the mixed native species plantings appeared to be at least risk of arrested succession due to the dominance of a broader range of tree species of different successional stages or expected life spans. In all treatments, several locally important families of primary forest trees (Annonaceae, Chrysobalanaceae, Lauraceae, Palmae and Sapotaceae) were markedly underrepresented due to a combination of poor survival of initial plantings and limitations on seed dispersal from the surrounding primary forest.

Ancillary