Tropical cloud forests play a fundamental role in the hydrological cycle of mountain watersheds having the largest biodiversity per unit area. In Venezuela, cloud forests are subject to intense deforestation and fragmentation by farming and cattle-ranching causing soil erosion, water cycle alteration, and biodiversity loss. Reforestation projects used exotic species as Pines and Eucalyptus, native species were rarely planted by lacking knowledge on species requirements and management. We report the performance of 25 native cloud forest species differing in shade-tolerance, planted in mixed assemblies on degraded areas. Tree survival and the individual tree variables: total height, root-collar diameter, tree-slenderness, and crown-ratio were evaluated at 1, 2, 4.5 and 7 years-old. Data was analyzed with a repeated measures analysis of variance mixed model considering species shade-tolerance, light intensity at planting and age as explanatory factors. Survival was over 80%. Shade-intolerant species displayed faster height and root-collar diameter growth. Shade-tolerant species had larger crown ratios due to persistence of lower branches; whereas, shade-intolerant showed signs of crown recession at age 7. Slenderness values from age 4.5 were indicative of good trees stability and health across treatments. The positive results have motivated landowners to establish native species plantations in critical areas with our support.
Part of the book: Silviculture