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posted on 12.05.2021, 04:56 by Frederick Gyasi Damptey, Enrique G. de la Riva, Klaus Birkhofer

Active restoration of degraded areas with multi-purpose tree species has been proposed as a measure to counter the losses from deforestation and mitigate consequences for local human communities. In a restoration project at a former mining site in Ghana, ecosystem services (ES) proxies in an actively restored forest were compared to a local agroforestry system and a natural forest. The results provide information about trade-offs and synergies between proxies of multiple ES(s). ES proxies were assessed according to the following categories: (a) food-tree ES: biomass of food and fodder trees, (b) other trees ES: biomass of fuelwood, medicine or mulch trees, (c) ES-providing arthropods: the number of detritivorous and predaceous arthropods, (d) carbon storage, and (e) tree diversity. Eight replicated plots with sizes of 20 m × 20 m were established in each forest type, and the following ES proxies were quantified: tree diversity was estimated as taxonomic richness of all trees with a diameter at breast height ≥ 10 cm in each plot. Tree species were then classified into ES categories (food, fodder, fuelwood, medicine, or mulch). Ground-dwelling arthropods were sampled for 10 weeks with five pitfall traps in each plot and categorized as decomposers and predators. Tree above-ground biomass was estimated based on the measured tree diameter, height, and specific wood density using an improved allometric equation. The above-ground biomass was later converted into carbon storage by assuming 50% of the above-ground biomass of each tree. ES proxies based on tree biomass were highest in the natural forest. Fodder, medicine, fuelwood, and mulch ES proxies were significantly higher in the restored forest than the agroforestry system. Decomposer arthropods were most dominant in the natural forest, followed by the restored forest and the agroforestry system. Predacious arthropods were more dominant in the restored forest than in the other forest types. Carbon storage was highest in the natural forest, followed by the agroforestry system and the restored forest. The actively restored forest took an intermediate position between the agroforestry system and the natural forest regarding values for all nine ES proxies. Out of the 14 possible relationships between food or fodder and other ES proxies, five were significantly positive (synergies) with no observed trade-offs (significant negative relationships). High fodder production in the restored and natural forests went along with higher values of other biomass ES proxies and numbers of beneficial arthropods, while higher food biomass also correlated positively with numbers of decomposing arthropods. Our results document that active restoration of degraded sites provides a valuable framework to promote ES provision to local communities compared to agroforestry system, but at the cost of lower food and fuelwood biomass and carbon storage compared to natural forests.

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