Author(s): Feyera Senbeta, Demel Teketay, Bertke Nslund
Regeneration of native woody species was studied in the plantations and the adjacent natural forest at Munessa-Shashemene Forest Project Area, Ethiopia. The aim of the study was to test the hypothesis that tree plantations foster regeneration of native woody species. A total of 60 plots, having 10 × 10 m area each, were studied in monoculture plantations of 4 exotic species (Cupressus lusitanica, Eucalyptus globulus, E. saligna, Pinus patula) and an adjacent natural forest. Ages of the plantations ranged between 9 and 28 years. Soil seed bank analysis was also undertaken from soil samples collected in each of the 60 plots to examine the similarity between the soil seed flora and aboveground vegetation. A total of 56 naturally regenerated woody species were recorded beneath all plantation stands with densities ranging between 2300 and 18650 individuals / ha in different stands. There was a significant difference among plantation stands with regard to understorey density (standard deviation: 4836 ± 1341). Vegetation diversity was assessed through analyses of floristic composition, species richness and abundance. Generally, seedling populations were the most abundant components of the regeneration in most of the plantation stands, forming 68 % of the total regeneration count in all stands. A total of 77 plant species represented by 44 herbs, 13 woody species, 8 grasses and 12 unidentified species were recorded in the soil seed bank from all stands. Similarity between the soil seed bank and aboveground flora was very low implying that the role of soil seed banks is negligible rather dispersal plays an important role in the process of regeneration. These results support the concept that forest plantations can foster the regeneration of native woody species, thereby increasing biological diversity, provided that there are seed sources in the vicinity of the plantations.