Facilitation of forest landscape restoration on abandoned swidden fallows in Laos using mixed-species planting and biochar application
Sovu, Tigabu M., Savadogo P., Odén P.C. (2012). Facilitation of forest landscape restoration on abandoned swidden fallows in Laos using mixed-species planting and biochar application. Silva Fennica vol. 46 no. 1 article id 444. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.444
The cessation of swidden cultivation and the increasing trend of abandonment of swidden fallows have created an opportunity for forest landscape restoration. However, ways need to be found to improve the poor soil fertility at these sites with affordable materials and to generate short-term socio-economic benefits for small-scale swidden fallow holders. This study assessed the feasibility of using mixed-planting of eight native species and application of rice husk biochar as soil amendment measure at a site in Laos. The effect of biochar application was compared against addition of inorganic (NPK) fertilizer and the control. The establishment and growth of the planted seedlings was then monitored for four years. The addition of rice husk biochar and NPK fertilizer did not significantly (p = 0.578) improve the survival rate of planted seedlings, which ranged from 72% to 91% (depending on the species) compared to the control. No significant growth responses to the soil amendments were observed for most of the species during the first year after planting compared to the control. The biochar effect was, however, more evident at the fourth year for diameter (p < 0.01) and height (p < 0.01) of sapling for all species; particularly its effect was more vivid on the diameter of slow-growing species. The results indicate that the species tested in the mixed-planting showed marked growth variation while application of rice husk biochar boosted their growth. Thus, planting mixed-species in swidden fallows has potential to provide continuous supplies of wood from different species to diversify the livelihood of swidden field owners, while maintaining ecosystem services.
Received 14 February 2011 Accepted 15 December 2011 Published 31 December 2012