Adaptive forest landscape restoration as a contribution to more resilient ecosystems in the Shouf Biosphere Reserve (Lebanon)

Hani, N. et al. | Plant Sociology | 2017 | Peer Reviewed | Original research |


The Mediterranean Mosaics Project has the objective to increase the resilience of forest ecosystems in the Shouf Biosphere Reserve (SBR) to climate change. The Project has designed adaptive forest restoration and management plans that were applied in a number of pilot sites over the 3 years of Project implementation: (i) sustainable forest thinning and pruning operations were applied in 18.5 ha of Quercus calliprinos and Pinus brutia forestland; (ii) ecological restoration techniques were tested and demonstrated in 59.11 ha. Seeds and seedlings of about 38 plant species were used, with the objective to restore the forest habitats and ecological processes by which the species populations can self-organize into functional and resilient communities well-adapted to changing climate conditions, while at the same time delivering vital ecosystem services. Ad-hoc plant production protocols were developed to ensure the production of high-quality and well-hardened seedlings. The project has demonstrated the possibility to implement forest restoration without additional water supply to the planted seedlings. The survival rate in the majority of sites after 3 years was between 75% and 100%, with the exception of the direct seed sowing of oak acorns (up to 20%) that were very much affected by rodent predation. Only in instable soil debris direct seed sowing of Quercus acorns has achieved a very high survival rate up to 100%. The key factors of success in the Project forest restoration work were: (i) the availability of high quality plant material from the selected species; (ii) a good preparation of the soil and careful planting of seedlings to facilitate the growth of the root system, and increase soil water retention and storage; (iii) the selection of the right planting period, making sure that soil is sufficiently wet. The Project has also demonstrated the environmental and socio-economic benefits of the combined use of forest thinning and pruning products and agriculture waste (olive pomace and waste wood from fruit tree pruning). Lessons learned from the pilot demonstration actions have opened up new opportunities to influence forestation plans in the Country, and regulate the harvesting of forest biomass and its combined use with agricultural waste to control the risk of forest fires, generate economic benefit and contribute to local livelihoods.