Enhancing Mediterranean Forests: Close-to-Nature Management's Impact on Growth and Moisture

In a significant study under the LIFE MixForChange and ONEforest projects, as explained a few months ago, CTFC and CESEFOR partners have explored innovative approaches for resilient forests. Published in the Journal Forest Ecology and Management, their study, "Close-to-Nature Management Effects on Tree Growth and Soil Moisture in Mediterranean Mixed Forests," is accessible for free until November 19.

Close-to-nature management is vital for adapting to increasing droughts while fostering forest diversity and vitality, as seen in improved tree growth and soil moisture preservation.

The study, conducted in Catalan sub-humid Mediterranean mixed forests, examined 18 plots representing competition intensity gradients and various tree types (e.g., Quercus ilex, Castanea sativa, Pinus pinea). Eight plots underwent intensive monitoring, measuring tree growth and soil moisture.

Key findings:

- Tree growth correlated positively (albeit weakly) with close-to-nature management and negatively with competition intensity.

- Silvicultural treatments increased soil moisture by approximately 10% in Quercus ilex, Pinus sylvestris, and Pinus pinea stands, especially during the growing season.

- Models predicted seasonal tree growth using management, competition, and monthly soil moisture data.

In summary, close-to-nature forest management shows potential to reduce drought vulnerability by enhancing tree vitality and maintaining soil moisture, particularly in the short term.