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Assisted Regeneration: A Solution to Recover Ecosystems

Traditional reforestation techniques

There are many economic activities, mainly mining, agriculture and livestock, which cause deforestation and habitat fragmentation, leaving many ecosystems damaged and impoverished, causing water scarcity, and serious losses in biodiversity and soil fertility. In most cases, techniques that can guarantee the conservation of large tracts of forest using less land for agro-industrial activities, such as agrosilvopastoral techniques and intensive livestock farming, are dismissed. At the same time, many reforestation programs are launched by planting trees, with a very high cost, and zero or negative benefits in terms of biodiversity, ecosystem services and carbon sequestration. Unfortunately, in most of these programs, the percentage of plant survival is very low, and their economic benefits are uncertain and/or insignificant. Reforestation is not the best way to restore biodiversity and forest ecosystems. It is difficult to convert current agricultural customs towards practices that are more compatible with the sustainability of ecosystems, but it is even more difficult to suffer the consequences of the depletion of nature. The Los Tananeos Natural Reserve is witness to how difficult it is to recover a forest cleared for agricultural production, and following the example of entities such as the Los Besotes Ecopark (Valledupar) has verified that allowing natural regeneration is better than reforesting, it is cheaper and the different stages of development that a desolate territory goes through until it becomes a forest again are better appreciated. Wild fauna returns in a more balanced way - first the invertebrates, then the reptiles, and finally the amphibians, birds and mammals - as they find more moisture and food; and finally, the result is much more plausible, by avoiding planting many trees that nobody will be able to take care of, which are very expensive and which in the end mostly dry up a few months later. Digging holes in the ground to introduce nursery-grown seedlings is an inefficient and unproductive method. Also, it is very expensive.

Reforestation through assisted regeneration

The objectives of any reforestation program must be aimed at restoring biodiversity and essential ecosystem services, restoring productive conditions, sequestering carbon, protecting watersheds, and conserving soils. Assisted regeneration is a technique that seeks to accelerate the recovery of biodiversity and fundamental ecosystem services in degraded areas in a very efficient and effective way.

One of the main objectives of assisted regeneration is to increase the percentage of plant survival and guarantee its establishment and growth. To achieve this, constant monitoring is required to identify barriers and threats to the establishment and development of natural vegetation. This may include preventing fires and making fire breaks, removing debris from the ground to minimize fire risk, preventing livestock from trampling and destroying and consuming tree seedlings, building fences to prevent livestock entry, and, in some In some cases, selectively plant certain pioneer species to make ecological succession faster and the ecosystem more valuable.

By applying assisted regeneration we let nature do the work, the trees grow on their own and the forest ecosystems regenerate. Especially if the soil is not severely degraded and there is natural forest vegetation nearby. Wind, insects, birds, and mammals spread seeds from natural patches to cleared areas and begin a natural regeneration process that follows a sequence known as ecological succession.

If we want to guarantee a sustainable future for our planet, assisted regeneration must be part of our ecosystem conservation and restoration strategy.


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