Credit: MENDELU.

MENDELU Researchers Investigate Whether Foreign Trees Can Aid in Forest Restoration

The results of the project will mainly be used by forest owners interested in adapting the species composition of their forests to ongoing climate change. Photo credit: MENDELU.

Brno, Jan 26 (BD) – Hundreds of species-diverse non-native trees will grow in the next two years in two selected locations in Vysočina. Scientists from the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology at MENDELU, in cooperation with foresters from the Jihlava Urban Forest Administration, will test the suitability of non-native trees for their potential use in local stands. Ten species are planned for use in the project, including well-known giants such as the giant sequoia and the giant redwood. 

The results of the project will be useful, for example, in planning planting in parks, but they will mostly be used by forest owners who are interested in adapting the species composition to ongoing climate change, such as when restoring forest stands following a forest disaster.

“Until 2031, experts from Mendel University in Brno will test the suitability and vitality of non-native species under conditions of a changing climate and increasing scarcity of soil moisture,” said Pavel Hájek, the Vysočina Region’s councillor for the environment and agriculture. “Among the species to be tested will be alien species typical of, for example, the Middle East or America.” 

The selected species will be planted this spring in locations near the villages of Otín u Stonařova and Sokolíčko, on the property of the Jihlava Urban Forest Administration. The total area should be no more than several hectares, and the foresters will create ideally mixed mixtures of different species. 

“There are a number of selected tree species; one of our proposed species is the giant sequoia. Experimental planting would allow us to check, for example, its growth dynamics in the current climate in comparison with previously planted specimens,” explained Luboš Úradníček of the university’s Institute of Forest Botany, Dendrology, and Geobiocenology. “We will also test the suitability of trees that have never been worked on or have only been worked on infrequently.” The basic criteria for selecting trees will be acceptable production capacity, increased drought resistance, natural rejuvenation, or the ability to form suitable stand mixtures with native tree species.

The first phase of planting the trees will continue until 2024, followed by stand management. In the next two phases, until 2028 and 2031, the research will focus on the experience and results of the previous phases. “For example, vitality or growth in relation to various environmental influences will be monitored in the test stands,” said Úradníček. Foresters will work with the stand based on the interim results and in consultation with researchers from MENDELU, and then replant additional trees or change the composition of the stand if necessary.

The giant sequoia is the largest tree on Earth, growing up to 80 metres tall. It occurs naturally only in North America, where it can live up to 3,000 years. In the Czech Republic, it grows in several parks and arboretums. The largest redwoods, 40 metres high and 150 years old, can be seen in the castle park in Ratmerice in the Benesov region. The domestic spruce reaches a similar height.

The purchase of the planting material will be paid for by the Vysočina Region, which will also coordinate the entire project. The Jihlava Urban Forestry Administration will take care of the planting, and together with the Region and Mendel University, it will also participate in the evaluation.

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