Lebanon’s Ministry of Environment initiated a project in 2009 to determine low-cost reforestation techniques for stone pine (Pinus pinea
) and Lebanon cedar (Cedrus libani
) for large-scale land rehabilitation activities in the arid Middle East. Irrigation (several techniques vs. no water), planting (8- to 18-month-old seedlings), seeding, and soil preparation methods were evaluated in three sets of adaptive management field trials. The aim was to reduce reforestation costs while still achieving sufficient regeneration. A key result for management was that non-irrigated seed planting of stone pine and possibly of Lebanon cedar showed promise for cost-effective reforestation and could be competitive with seedlings, given correct seed source and planting conditions. Stone pine seeds collected from nearby mother trees and planted without irrigation on sandy soil showed 35% survival for <600 USD/ha; seedlings planted without irrigation cost about 2500 USD/ha and achieved 50–70% survival (costs based on 800 seedlings/ha). Water supplements increased establishment costs over 2 years without concomitant improvements to survival. Future studies should evaluate how soil texture and soil preparation interact with other factors to affect seed germination and survival for each species.
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