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Title: Taking the pulse of forest plantations success in peri-urban environments through continuous inventory
Authors: Ferrari, Barbara
Corona, Piermaria
Mancini, Davide
Salvati, Riccardo
Barbati, Anna
Keywords: Peri-urban reforestation;Continuos forest inventory;Growth dynamics;Tree species performance;Carbon sequestration;Carbon uptake
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Springer
Source: Ferrari, B. et al. 2017. Taking the pulse of forest plantations success in peri-urban environments through continuous inventory. "New Forests" 48 (4): 527–545
Urban expansion increases the need for, and pressure on, green areas. Reforestation
projects in the rural–urban fringe represent an opportunity for enhancing the
environmental quality of peri-urban spaces and a means to contribute to cities carbon
neutrality policies. Yet, relatively little information exists regarding the long term
(10–25 years) survival and growth rate in urban and peri-urban plantations. This paper
reports and discusses the results achieved by a reforestation in the peri-urban space of
Rome (Italy), 25 years after its establishment. The plantation has been periodically surveyed
between 6 and 24 years of age by means of continuous inventories, with the aim of
monitoring growth dynamics. Permanent sample plots have been investigated and stratified
by tree species composition (broadleaves vs. conifers, single vs. multispecies) for data
analysis. On the whole, plantations show suitable results in terms of rate of growth, carbon
storage and uptake, especially in coniferous and mixed stands. The average stand volume
of the forest plantation, currently ranges from one-and-a third to one-and-a-half times the
average values estimated for natural high forest stands of the same age and species groups
at country level. The species groups exhibit differential growth patterns over the observed
period, that are mainly due to differences in the ecological traits of the planted trees. Ten
years after the establishment, the average annual value of carbon uptake in conifer and
mixed species group exceeds 10 Mg CO2 equivalent ha-1 year-1, a figure corresponding to
4 times the value of deciduous broadleaves (oaks and other species) and 1.5 times the value
of evergreen oaks. Twenty years after the establishment, the average annual carbon uptake
peaks to 25 Mg CO2 equivalent ha-1 year-1 in the mixed species group, exceeds 15 Mg
CO2 equivalent ha-1 year-1 in the conifers, and ranks between 6 and 12.5 Mg CO2 equivalent ha-1 year-1 in the groups dominated by broadleaved species. Overall with a surface area just under 300 ha, the carbon uptake level of the Castel di Guido reforestation
allows to offset the 0.04% of CO2 emissions of the city of Rome. Although the spatial
coexistence of even-aged plantation blocks characterized by a range of ecological traits, is
expected to ensure a more continuous carbon sequestration, being less susceptible to
damage of any kind, the current lack of silvicultural management may also lead to
degradation processes, by triggering e.g. fuel accumulation and, by consequence, forest
fires. In this line, recommendations are provided in order to improve the ecological and
functional efficiency of the investigated reforestation. The field experiment demonstrates,
ultimately, the capability of the continuous forest inventory to take the pulse over several decades of tree species performance and carbon uptake levels in urban and peri-urban reforestations.
ISSN: ISSN 0169-4286
DOI: 10.1007/s11056-017-9580-x
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