Special Issue "Restoring Forest Landscapes: Impact on Soil Properties and Functions"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecology and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 April 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Jose Antonio Navarro Cano
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
National Institute for Agricultural and Food Research and Technology(INIA), Madrid, Spain
Interests: biodiversity and ecosystem functions; dryland restoration; ecological facilitation; plant–soil interactions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Restoring depleted ecosystems is among the main goals that most national and international institutions will unavoidably have to tackle in the coming decades. The twenty-first century could become the ecological restoration century, once we are already looking into the eyes of the global change and its effects (biodiversity crisis, humanitarian crisis, desertification). New ecological restoration programs will require a greater balance between environmental, economic, and social objectives, and the commitment of all main stakeholders. New approaches towards more resilient forests will be based not only on new ecotechnological tools and the work of multidisciplinary teams but also on a deep knowledge of ecological theory.

We are looking for manuscripts on methods, results, and ideas on forest restoration and management that pursue not only the establishment of forest covers but also attempt to restore plant dynamics and plant–soil interactions as a first step towards a sustainable mid- to long-term recovery of functions, from ecosystem properties to goods and services. Experiments and studies focused on promoting or assessing how plant–soil microbe interactions synergistically affect the provision of different soil ecosystem functions are especially welcome. Any contributions related to promoting or improving the plant–soil interface of forest landscapes in drylands and desertification-prone areas are also appreciated.

Dr. Jose Antonio Navarro Cano
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Forest carbon stock
  • Forest biodiversity
  • Forest resilience
  • Soil fertility
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Species functional traits
  • Plant–soil microbe interactions
  • Forest adaptation to global warming
  • Forest restoration
  • Landscape planning

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Article
Natural Seed Limitation and Effectiveness of Forest Plantations to Restore Semiarid Abandoned Metal Mining Areas in SE Spain
Forests 2021, 12(5), 548; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12050548 - 28 Apr 2021
Viewed by 502
Abstract
The natural regeneration of forests in mining areas is typically hampered by edaphic stress. Semiarid conditions add a climatic stress that challenges the restoration of these harsh ecosystems. This is the case of Tetraclinisarticulata (Vahl) Masters mixed forests in the Western Mediterranean [...] Read more.
The natural regeneration of forests in mining areas is typically hampered by edaphic stress. Semiarid conditions add a climatic stress that challenges the restoration of these harsh ecosystems. This is the case of Tetraclinisarticulata (Vahl) Masters mixed forests in the Western Mediterranean region colonizing mining structures abandoned three decades ago. We studied the factors controlling the natural establishment of nine shrub and tree species key in these forests in eight metal mine tailings in SE Spain. In addition, we assessed the success of reintroducing 1480 individuals of the nine species 15 months after planting in one of the tailings. Specifically, we analyzed the effect of (i) species identity in terms of sapling survival, growth, nutritional status and metal bioaccumulation, and (ii) adding organic amendments into the planting holes on the same parameters. Our results indicated that natural colonization is a recent process, with seedling cohorts that vary up to two orders of magnitude among species and a practical absence of adult plants in most species excepting T. articulata. We identified seed limitation as a key factor controlling seedling density, which was significantly explained by the distance from the border of the tailing to the closest adult out of the tailing. Soil metal concentration did not have any explanatory power on the density of naturally-established seedlings, whereas soil fertility was relevant only for Rhamnus lycioides L. Overall survival of planted individuals was over 80%, survival and growth remarkably differing among species. Organic amendments had neutral or negative effects on plant survival, but significantly increased the growth of survivors despite their modest effects on leaf nutrient contents. Most species showed high metal bioaccumulation, which was exacerbated by organic amendments. We discuss how biodiversity conservation programs can benefit from the affordable and successful plantation of stress-tolerant local species, but come at the expense of potential metal transfer through trophic webs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Forest Landscapes: Impact on Soil Properties and Functions)
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Article
Enhancing the Resilience of a Mediterranean Forest to Extreme Frought Events and Climate Change: PinusTetraclinis Forests in Europe
Forests 2021, 12(4), 487; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12040487 - 15 Apr 2021
Viewed by 601
Abstract
The southeast Iberian Peninsula is the only place in the European Community where Tetraclinis articulata (Vahl) Masters populations are native. In this area, the optimal ecological niche for this species is occupied by Pinus halepensis (Miller). The increasing intensity of extreme drought events [...] Read more.
The southeast Iberian Peninsula is the only place in the European Community where Tetraclinis articulata (Vahl) Masters populations are native. In this area, the optimal ecological niche for this species is occupied by Pinus halepensis (Miller). The increasing intensity of extreme drought events induced by climate change causes severe declines in pine forests, while providing expansion opportunities for established Tetraclinis populations. Within the framework of the LIFE-TETRACLINIS project, a study has been designed to simulate the pine forest decline effects on the population dynamics of this protected species. This work investigates the effects of decreasing competition on T. articulata specimens with limited reproductive activity. To induce the reproductive activity of these specimens through increasing the availability of light, the surrounding pines were removed within a 15 m radius. Increased light availability was modelled using “Light Detection And Ranging” (LiDAR) data, and changes in the main reproductive parameters were registered throughout the study period. A significant increase in the reproductive population was achieved, as well as the cones produced per specimen and the recruitment. Findings obtained are promising for the habitat management in continental Europe and enhancing this forest system’s resilience to extreme drought events and climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Forest Landscapes: Impact on Soil Properties and Functions)
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Article
Soil Bacterial Community Responds to Land-Use Change in Riparian Ecosystems
Forests 2021, 12(2), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12020157 - 28 Jan 2021
Viewed by 845
Abstract
Riparian forests were frequently cleared and converted to agricultural pastures, but in recent times these pastures are often revegetated in an effort to return riparian forest structure and function. We tested if there is a change in the soil bacterial taxonomy and function [...] Read more.
Riparian forests were frequently cleared and converted to agricultural pastures, but in recent times these pastures are often revegetated in an effort to return riparian forest structure and function. We tested if there is a change in the soil bacterial taxonomy and function in areas of riparian forest cleared for agricultural pasture then revegetated, and if soil bacterial taxonomy and function is related to vegetation and soil physicochemical properties. The study was conducted in six riparian areas in south-eastern Australia, each comprising of three land-use types: remnant riparian forest, cleared forest converted to pasture, and revegetated pastures. We surveyed three strata of vegetation and sampled surface soil and subsoil to characterize physicochemical properties. Taxonomic and functional composition of soil bacterial communities were assessed using 16S rRNA gene sequences and community level physiological profiles, respectively. Few soil physiochemical properties differed with land use despite distinct vegetation in pasture relative to remnant and revegetated areas. Overall bacterial taxonomic and functional composition of remnant forest and revegetated soils were distinct from pasture soil. Land-use differences were not consistent for all bacterial phyla, as Acidobacteria were more abundant in remnant soils; conversely, Actinobacteria were more abundant in pasture soils. Overall, bacterial metabolic activity and soil carbon and nitrogen content decreased with soil depth, while bacterial metabolic diversity and evenness increased with soil depth. Soil bacterial taxonomic composition was related to soil texture and soil fertility, but functional composition was only related to soil texture. Our results suggest that the conversion of riparian forests to pasture is associated with significant changes in the soil bacterial community, and that revegetation contributes to reversing such changes. Nevertheless, the observed changes in bacterial community composition (taxonomic and functional) were not directly related to changes in vegetation but were more closely related to soil attributes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Forest Landscapes: Impact on Soil Properties and Functions)
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Article
Earthworms as an Ecological Indicator of Soil Recovery after Mechanized Logging Operations in Mixed Beech Forests
Forests 2021, 12(1), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010018 - 25 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 775
Abstract
Soil damage caused by logging operations conducted to obtain and maximize economic benefits has been established as having long-term effects on forest soil quality and productivity. However, a comprehensive study of the impact of logging operations on earthworms as a criterion for soil [...] Read more.
Soil damage caused by logging operations conducted to obtain and maximize economic benefits has been established as having long-term effects on forest soil quality and productivity. However, a comprehensive study of the impact of logging operations on earthworms as a criterion for soil recovery has never been conducted in the Hyrcanian forests of Iran. The aim of this study was to determine the changes in soil biological properties (earthworm density and biomass) and its recovery process under the influence of traffic intensity, slope and soil depth in various intervals according to age after logging operations. Soil properties were compared among abandoned skid trails with different ages (i.e., 3, 10, 20, and 25 years) and an undisturbed area. The results showed that earthworm density and biomass in the high traffic intensity and slope class of 20–30% at the 10–20 cm depth of the soil had the lowest value compared to the other treatments. Twenty-five years after the logging operations, the earthworm density at soil depth of 0–10 and 10–20 cm was 28.4% (0.48 ind. m−2) and 38.6% (0.35 ind. m−2), which were less than those of the undisturbed area, respectively. Meanwhile, the earthworm biomass at a soil depth of 0–10 and 10–20 cm was 30.5% (2.05 mg m−2) and 40.5% (1.54 mg m−2) less than the values of the undisturbed area, respectively. The earthworm density and biomass were positively correlated with total porosity, organic carbon and nitrogen content, while negatively correlated with soil bulk density and C/N ratio. According to the results, 25 years after logging operations, the earthworm density and biomass on the skid trails were recovered, but they were significantly different with the undisturbed area. Therefore, full recovery of soil biological properties (i.e., earthworm density and biomass) takes more than 25 years. The conclusions of our study reveal that the effects of logging operations on soil properties are of great significance, and our understanding of the mechanism of soil change and recovery demand that harvesting operations be extensively and properly implemented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Forest Landscapes: Impact on Soil Properties and Functions)
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Article
Biogeographic Changes in Forest Soil Microbial Communities of Offshore Islands—A Case Study of Remote Islands in Taiwan
Forests 2021, 12(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010004 - 22 Dec 2020
Viewed by 712
Abstract
Biogeographic separation has been an important cause of faunal and floral distribution; however, little is known about the differences in soil microbial communities across islands. In this study, we determined the structure of soil microbial communities by analyzing phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) profiles [...] Read more.
Biogeographic separation has been an important cause of faunal and floral distribution; however, little is known about the differences in soil microbial communities across islands. In this study, we determined the structure of soil microbial communities by analyzing phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) profiles and comparing enzymatic activities as well as soil physio-chemical properties across five subtropical granite-derived and two tropical volcanic (andesite-derived) islands in Taiwan. Among these islands, soil organic matter, pH, urease, and PLFA biomass were higher in the tropical andesite-derived than subtropical granite-derived islands. Principal component analysis of PLFAs separated these islands into three groups. The activities of soil enzymes such as phosphatase, β-glucosidase, and β-glucosaminidase were positively correlated with soil organic matter and total nitrogen. Redundancy analysis of microbial communities and environmental factors showed that soil parent materials and the climatic difference are critical factors affecting soil organic matter and pH, and consequently the microbial community structure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Forest Landscapes: Impact on Soil Properties and Functions)
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Article
An Assessment of Soil’s Nutrient Deficiencies and Their Influence on the Restoration of Degraded Karst Vegetation in Southwest China
Forests 2020, 11(8), 797; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11080797 - 23 Jul 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 958
Abstract
The distribution of karst landscapes over the Earth’s surface, to a large extent, follows the distribution of carbonate (limestone and dolomite) and gypsum rocks and together these make up about 12% of the Earth’s land area, and the largest karst region in to [...] Read more.
The distribution of karst landscapes over the Earth’s surface, to a large extent, follows the distribution of carbonate (limestone and dolomite) and gypsum rocks and together these make up about 12% of the Earth’s land area, and the largest karst region in to world is in Southwestern China. Characterized by a unique set of landforms, these geographical areas also differ from other geomorphic regions by the presence of cave systems in the subsurface. Unfortunately, due to human disturbances, such as deforestation, agricultural expansion, livestock overgrazing and fire, these regions have been affected by varying degrees of degradation, which could also be worsened if water and soil erosion phenomena typical of these areas are considered. Therefore, there is a need to implement measures and strategies to protect these karst areas and develop plans to restore vegetation in this region. To support local and national authorities to achieve this goal, this study aims to characterize nutrient deficiencies in degraded areas and estimate what could be the thresholds required to facilitate the restoration of vegetation in karst areas in southwest China. The results obtained confirm that the total element concentrations for Soil Organic Carbon (SOC), N, K, Ca, P, S and Mg were relatively high in the study karst area in southwest China. However, the total amounts of soil nutrients stored were very low due to the limited amount of soil identified as a consequence of previous deforestation processes undertaken within this study area and this aspect needs to be taken into consideration if aiming at a positive success of future restoration processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Forest Landscapes: Impact on Soil Properties and Functions)
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Article
The Use of Wood Chips for Revitalization of Degraded Forest Soil on Young Scots Pine Plantation
Forests 2020, 11(6), 683; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11060683 - 17 Jun 2020
Viewed by 831
Abstract
The aim of the study was to assess the impact of several methods of mulching degraded forest soil with wood chips on the development of mite (Acari) community, with particular emphasis to oribatid mites (Oribatida), and on the growth of young plantings of [...] Read more.
The aim of the study was to assess the impact of several methods of mulching degraded forest soil with wood chips on the development of mite (Acari) community, with particular emphasis to oribatid mites (Oribatida), and on the growth of young plantings of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.). Mulching with wood chips should contribute to revitalize soil fauna and restore natural forests on degraded soils. Scots pine seedlings were planted at the post-military training ground. Four experimental treatments were tested: control—uncovered soil (C), mulching with wood chips (W), W + mycorrhiza preparation (WM), and W + forest litter (WL). At the end of the growing season in 2012, 2013 and 2014, the following plant measurements were carried out: length of annual increment of the main stem, stem base diameter, number and lengths of lateral shoots in the annual whorl. The mite calculations included average mite density, dominance index, species richness, oribatid mite diversity, average number of species, and Shannon general species diversity index. The use of mulching with wood chips did not significantly affect the growth characteristics of Scots pine plants, but strongly increased the mite community. After mulching, the total number and species diversity of Acari increased many times, and Oribatida began to dominate among micro-arthropods. The number of Oribatida increased most in W. The largest species diversity was observed in WL. 24 species of Oribatida were found that were used as the bio-indicators of soil succession changes. Tectocepheus velatus clearly dominated in all mulching treatments. Oppiella nova and Scutovertex sculptus were also numerous populations of Oribatida. The study shows that mulching with Scots pine wood chips, especially with the addition of forest litter, significantly enriches soil fauna and is therefore useful in the regeneration process of degenerated forest soils. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Forest Landscapes: Impact on Soil Properties and Functions)
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Commentary
Seeking Environmental Sustainability in Dryland Forestry
Forests 2019, 10(9), 737; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10090737 - 27 Aug 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1004
Abstract
Forestry systems, including afforestation and reforestation land uses, are prevalent in drylands and aimed at restoring degraded lands and halting desertification. However, an increasing amount of literature has alerted potentially adverse ecological and environmental impacts of this land use, risking a wide range [...] Read more.
Forestry systems, including afforestation and reforestation land uses, are prevalent in drylands and aimed at restoring degraded lands and halting desertification. However, an increasing amount of literature has alerted potentially adverse ecological and environmental impacts of this land use, risking a wide range of ecosystem functions and services. The objective of this paper is to demonstrate the potentially adverse implications of dryland forestry and highlight the caution needed when planning and establishing such systems. Wherever relevant, establishment of low-impact runoff harvesting systems is favored over high-impact ones, which might cause extensive land degradation of their surroundings. Specifically, both in hillslopes and channels, scraping, removal, or disturbance of topsoil for the construction of runoff harvesting systems should be minimized to prevent the decrease in soil hydraulic conductivity and increase in water overland flow and soil erosion. In order to negate suppression of understory vegetation and sustain plant species richness and diversity, low-density savanization by non-allelopathic tree species is preferred over high-density forestry systems by allelopathic species. Wherever possible, it is preferable to plant native tree species rather than introduced or exotic species, in order to prevent genetic pollution and species invasion. Mixed-species forestry systems should be favored over single-species plantations, as they are less susceptible to infestation by pests and diseases. In addition, drought-tolerant, fire-resistant, and less flammable tree species should be preferred over drought-prone, fire-susceptible, and more flammable species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Forest Landscapes: Impact on Soil Properties and Functions)
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