Tree Regeneration in Church Forests of Ethiopia: Effects of Microsites and Management

Authors

  • Alemayehu Wassie,

    1. Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
    2. Organization for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara (ORDA), P.O. Box 132, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
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  • Frank J. Sterck,

    Corresponding author
    1. Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
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  • Demel Teketay,

    1. Forest Stewardship Council, African Regional Office (FSC Africa), FSC Africa, 4 Asoyi Road, East Legon, UPO LPMB 11, Legon, Accra, Ghana
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  • Frans Bongers

    1. Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Corresponding author; e-mail: frank.sterck@wur.nl

ABSTRACT

Tree regeneration is severely hampered in the fragmented afromontane forests of northern Ethiopia. We explored how trees regenerate in remnant forests along the gradient from open field, forest edge to closed sites and canopy gaps inside the forest. We investigated the effects of seed sowing, litter removal, and weeding on the regeneration success along this gradient. Regeneration success was investigated for four indigenous tree species, and measured in terms of seedling establishment, growth, and survival. Species performed differently according to site conditions. Within the forest, local canopy openings facilitated seed germination (Ekebergia), seedling growth (all species except Olea), or survival (Ekebergia and Olea), suggesting that all species benefited from local high light conditions in the forest. Outside the forest, germination (all species) and growth rates (Juniperus and Olea) were lower in the open field, most probably due to water stress in the dry season. Outer edge conditions favored growth for three of the four species. Natural seed germination was, however, zero at any site for Juniperus and Olea and low for Ekebergia and Prunus in the open field. Soil scarification influenced germination positively, while weeding did not have a positive effect. These results suggest that simple measures may improve seedling establishment, and that, for some species, forest edges are particularly useful for growth and survival after succesful establishment. Together with erecting fences, needed to protect seedlings against grazing, seed sowing, planting seedling, and soil scarification may contribute to maintain and restore church forests in the fragmented landscapes of northern Ethiopia.

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