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The advantage of native forests

The Atlantic Forest, one of the most diverse in the world

Eduardo Cesar

An analysis of 264 studies carried out in 53 countries by a group that included researchers from the University of São Paulo (Science, March 17) suggests that in the pursuit of environmental results, forest restoration projects need to be integrated into a land-use plan and reconcile timber production with the diversity of species to be planted. According to the review, led by Fangyuan Hua, an ecologist from Peking University in China, forests with native species store more carbon, provide more water to nearby streams, and prevent soil erosion better than forests with just one or a few tree species. All over the world, fast-growing species such as pines and eucalyptus are being planted for logging, with surrounding flora removed to prevent competition for nutrients and light. Native forests, however, are composed of a variety of species of trees, shrubs, and herbs. They grow more slowly and attract more animals but produce comparatively less timber than other methods.