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Diverse Forests Outyield Monocultures

Image Forest
Multispecies forests are more productive than monocultures, since they make better use of available resources such as light, water and nutrients. (Image: Department of Geography, UZH) (Image: Geographisches Institut UZH)

Multispecies tree plantations are more productive than monocultures, according to a new study carried out in China. UZH environmental scientist Bernhard Schmid was involved in the research.

The study, conducted by an international team of researchers led by Peking University, analyzed 270 studies from 255 sites around the world. For each site, the studies compared afforestation practices that featured single-species and multispecies tree plantations with equal planting density and stand age. Based on their findings, the researchers conclude that multiple species growing together can boost biomass. According to the study, plantations with a mix of tree species produce up to 25% more biomass than single-species plantations; in addition, the trees also grow taller and have greater trunk density. All things considered, this means that they yield 25% more timber and also bind 25% more carbon. Both of these findings have direct economic and ecological implications.

Press release UZH