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The Biogeochemistry of the Amazon Basin$
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Michael E. McClain, Reynaldo Victoria, and Jeffrey E. Richey

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195114317

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195114317.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 October 2021

Nutrient Considerations in the Use of Silviculture for Land Development and Rehabilitation in the Amazon

Nutrient Considerations in the Use of Silviculture for Land Development and Rehabilitation in the Amazon

(p.106) 7 Nutrient Considerations in the Use of Silviculture for Land Development and Rehabilitation in the Amazon
The Biogeochemistry of the Amazon Basin

Florencia Montagnini

Oxford University Press

Tropical plantations serve diverse economic, social, political, and ecological functions. With considerably higher yields than managed native forests, tropical and subtropical plantations make substantial contributions to world timber and pulp production (Wadsworth 1983, Evans 1992). Tree plantations can also be a source of cash, savings, and insurance for individual farmers. Plantations may help stabilize rural populations in regions where shifting agriculture is the predominant land use. In combination with subsistence and commercial crops (agroforestry) or cattle (agrosilvopastoral systems), plantations have been used as tools in rural development projects worldwide. Plantations are often seen as alternatives to deforestation as they can provide products that otherwise would be taken from natural forests (Fearnside 1990, McNabb et al. 1994). Nutrient cycling characteristics of tropical plantations differ from those of natural forests in a number of ways. Natural forests are adapted to ecological niches by intricate and effective physiological adaptations of growth in the environment (see Cuevas, this volume). Instead, tropical plantations are simplified, generally monospecific ecosystems that occupy the site for a limited period of time that can range from 4–12 years (for biomass, pulpwood, or fuelwood) up to 20–40 years (timber). In many instances plantations are composed of species that are exotic to the region, or even when indigenous, are new to the particular plantation site. Since plantation tree species have been generally selected for production of timber or other aboveground tree parts, they tend to maintain a smaller fraction of total tree biomass nutrients in roots than natural forests (Vogt et al. 1997). In rain forests growing on poor soils, high tree productivity is in part due to the existence of important nutrient conserving mechanisms mediated by the root system (Cuevas, this volume). The smaller biomass of plantation root systems may thus make them more susceptible to nutrient and water stress. Smaller root systems may also make plantation forests more susceptible to disturbances from strong winds and pathogens that attack aerial parts (Vogt et al. 1997). Nutrient demands by plantation trees vary from season to season and with the developmental age of the stand (Drechsel and Zech 1993). During the life of the plantation, large quantities of nutrients are returned to the soil by above- and belowground litter, harvest residues, stem flow, and throughfall.

Keywords:   agroforestry, mahogany, plantation tree species, sustainable plantations, tree litter

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