How to enhance forest natural succession?



Natural succession efforts in forest areas can be done by certain methods, one of which is restoration. Forest restoration is an effort to restore areas that have been degraded to grow back into a healthy and functional forest condition.

We can restore degraded forest through introducing plant species that originally grew in the area. This method can bring back species composition close to its original condition. This method can be referred to as accelerated natural succession or Elliot et al (2005) called it as accelerated natural restoration on forest restoration activities in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Accelerated natural regeneration adheres to a concept that forest areas have certain mechanisms to recover themselves. However, this process goes slowly. The process may run faster only if there is no disturbance to the area. In addition, this process is also influenced by animal presence, such as seed dispersers, which will help disperse seeds and change vegetation composition.

This natural succession process inspires Belantara in restoring degraded forest in Giam Siak Kecil Bukit Batu, through the Forest Restoration Project: SDGs Together.

The natural succession process in degraded forest can be very slow. Therefore, we plan to accelerate natural regeneration to speed up the forest area's recovery process, through following activities:
  • Ensure restoration areas are relatively saved from human and natural disturbances.
  • Ensure restoration areas still have live adult trees, to help regenerate the forest,
  • Conduct native tree planting
  • Ensure we only choose baby trees that come from seeds/seedlings from the inside or nearest forest
  • Conduct monitoring and intensive maintenance from choosing baby trees, tree planting, and other maintenance activities
Through those efforts, we hope we can help forest natural succession in degraded forest. Restored forest will increase its ecological function for biodiversity that lives in the area, as well as provide ecosystem services for the surroundings.


Writer: Hamda Khairuzani
Editor: Diny Hartiningtias

Project Update: Tree Planting Process

Tree planting process

November - December


1. Land preparation
Our field team opened and cleared the planting areas using mechanical methods. We cleaned shrubs, grasses, and ferns using machetes.

2. Create tree planting lines
Tree planting conducted using a line method where we plant baby trees in a line plot. Each line separated by 5 meters and on the line, we spaced trees every 4 meters. The method is preferable due to its efficiency and less destructive.

3. Spray the planting area
We sprayed the planting areas with herbicide to reduce undesirable plants such as shrubs, grasses, and ferns, especially around planting lines.

4. Select baby trees
We selected healthy tree seedlings from a nursery near the planting area. There are 4 species that we choose during tree planting phase-1, which are Gonystylus bancanus, Shorea sp., Vatica sp., and Syzygium sp. Each baby tree should be healthy and at least 60 cm tall.

5. Plant baby trees
We planted about 2,500 baby trees in a 5 hectares area.

Monitoring and Maintenance

March and July


1. Monitoring
Three months after planting, we monitor the planted trees. Some planted trees are dead, especially ramin tree (Gonystylus bancanus).

Six months after planting, we conducted monitoring for planted trees. During monitoring, we observed that the planted trees have grown to about 120 cm. There are still dead trees but not as many as the first three months.

2. Maintenance
Some of the planted baby trees are dead due to several reasons. We changed the dead baby trees with new healthy baby trees. There were about 400 baby trees that we changed during the first maintenance (3 months after tree planting). We replaced dead ramin trees with meranti trees (Shorea sp.). Then, during the second maintenance, there were about 100 dead baby trees replaced by healthy baby trees.

During maintenance, we also clear the planting area from weeds, shrubs, and ferns. This is an important step to ensure robust growth and to promote optimal growing conditions for the planted trees.


Writer: Diny Hartiningtias, Soni Setia Budiawan, Hamda Khairuzanni

Maintenance Activities

Some baby trees are dead as pictured in this photo. During maintenance activities, we changed this dead tree with a new healthy baby tree.

Rudiyanto (center) and his team preparing baby trees for maintenance of the first planted areas.

Rudiyanto (center) led the maintenance of the first planted areas.

Some baby trees we planted in December 2020 died due to several reasons. In this picture, our team is planting a new healthy tree to replace the dead tree.

Our team is making a hole for planting new healthy baby tree.

During maintenance activities, our team planted healthy new baby trees to replace dead trees.

 

What is Biosphere Reserve?


Biosphere Reserve is an area where local communities work towards biodiversity conservation and its sustainable use. The site is a place for learning sustainable development. Thus, the area promotes improvement of local communities' livelihood and natural conservation that are culturally-socially appropriate and environmentally sustainable.

Biosphere Reserve has to be nominated by national government and then recognized by international panel, the Man and the Biosphere Program of UNESCO. Currently, there are 714 biosphere reserves in the world, distributed in 129 countries, including 21 transboundary sites.

Biosphere Reserve can be acknowledged as biosphere reserve only if the area has following functions:
  • Conservation of biodiversity and cultural diversity.
  • Economic development that is socially, culturally and environmentally sustainable.
  • Human development through research, monitoring, education, and training.

Biosphere reserve has three main zones, which are:
  1. Core zone, which is strictly protected areas for protecting the landscape, ecosystem, and species, as well as for conducting research and monitoring.
  2. Buffer zone, which surrounds the core zone. The area can be used for activities that can reinforce scientific research, monitoring, training, and education.
  3. Transition zone, which is where local communities foster sustainable livelihoods.

One of biosphere reserves in Indonesia is the Giam Siak Kecil Bukit Batu Biosphere Reserve in Riau. Giam Siak Kecil Bukit Batu declared as biosphere reserve in 2009. This area is habitat for sumatran tiger, sumatran elephant, tapir, and sun bear. It is also a peatland area that stores highly concentrated carbon. This area featured sustainable timber production as well as supporting communities' livelihood.

Part of the Giam Siak Kecil Bukit Batu biosphere reserve is degraded due to several reasons. The Forest Restoration Project: SDGs Together aims to help government to restore degraded peatland in the area.


Writer: Diny Hartiningtias

Monitoring Activities

During monitoring activities, we observed our baby trees we planted in December 2020 had grown over a meter.

Every three months, we cleared shrubs and grasses surrounding the planted trees. This is an important step to reduce competition between planted trees and undesired plants (shrubs and grasses). In this picture, Rudiyanto monitored a tree we planted in December 2020.


Line Method

We planted the trees using line method. In this picture, you can see lines in the patchy area. Those lines are lines for our tree planting program. There will be 2 meters wide between the trees that we planted. 

Our restoration area is located on the edge of Giam Siak Kecil Bukti Batu landscape. It is a remaining habitat for wildlife in the landscape.



Native Trees for Restoration

We planted healthy native tree to restore the degraded areas.

We planted healthy native tree to restore the degraded areas.


Our team planted a baby tree in the restoration area.

 

First Phase of Tree Planting

On December 2020 we completed our first phase of tree planting



On December 2020 we completed our first phase of tree planting


On December 2020 we completed our first phase of tree planting


Forest Restoration Project SDGs Together in Giam Siak Kecil Bukit Batu Biosphere Reserve

Belantara Foundation is still carrying out forest restoration program amid the difficulties of COVID19 pandemic. The restoration forest program is fully funded and supported by the APP Sinarmas and other donators as a joint program called the Forest Restoration Project SDGs Together. This program is a collaborative program between Belantara Foundation and APP Sinarmas in an effort to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, especially for goals number 13 - Climate Actions, goals number 15 – Live on Land, and also goals number 17 – Partnership for the Goals.



The Sustainable Development Goals aims to achieve sustainable development specific indicators as well as solving global problems simultaneously. Global problems that SDGs trying to solve for example are poverty, social inequality, and environmental disaster. The Sustainable Development Goals includes 17 goals with a total of 169 targets for global action plans in the next 15 years, started from 2016 and will be ended in 2030.


In the Forest Restoration Project SDGs Together, Belantara Foundation carries out tree planting activities in degraded peatland areas in Giam Siak Kecil Bukit Batu Biosphere Reserve, Riau, Sumatra. The first tree planting phase has been done in September 2020. Tree planting activities is being carried out in more than 10 hectares of degraded peatland by planting 6 species of trees, which are ramin (Gonystylus bancanus), samak (Glochidion superbum), kelompang (Sterculia macrophylla), kelat (Syzygium spp.) meranti (Shorea spp.) and parak (Santiria laevigata).



Belantara Foundation hope from this forest restoration program, degraded forest in Giam Siak Kecil Biosphere Reserve can be restored naturally into healthier peatland ecosystem. Healthy peatland ecosystem is valuable not only as flora and fauna habitat, but also for all living things, for clean water resources, reduce effect of climate crisis, as well as huge carbon storage for global environment. Belantara Foundation also hope this program will serve as Belantara Foundation and APP Sinarmas’s contribution to achieve 3 global action goals out of 17 overall SGDs for a better future.



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