Effectiveness of the Miyawaki method in Mediterranean forest restoration programs

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DOI: 10.1007/s11355-010-0117-0
Cite this publication
In the 1980s, Professor Akira Miyawaki introduced a new and innovative reforestation approach in Japan with the challenge to restore indigenous ecosystems, and maintaining global environments, including disaster prevention and carbon dioxide (CO2) mitigation. Here, natural vegetation successional stages (from bare soil to mature forest) are practically forced and reproduced, accelerating natural successional times. The Miyawaki method has been applied in the Far East, Malaysia, and South America; results have been very impressive, allowing quick environmental restorations of strongly degraded areas. However, these applications have always been made on sites characterized by high precipitation. The same method has never been used in a Mediterranean context distinguished by summer aridity and risk of desertification. A first test was carried out by the University of Tuscia, Department of Forest and Environment (DAF), 11years ago in Sardinia (Italy) on an area where traditional reforestation methods had failed. For an appropriate Miyawaki application on this site, the original method was modified while maintaining its theoretical principles. Results obtained 2 and 11years after planting are positive: having compared the traditional reforestation techniques, plant biodiversity using the Miyawaki method appears very high, and the new coenosis (plant community) was able to evolve without further operative support after planting. Therefore, the implementation of supplementary technique along with cost reduction might provide a new and innovative tool to foresters and ecological engineering experts for Mediterranean environmental reforestation program. KeywordsEcological restoration–Potential natural vegetation–Ecotechnology–Reforestation practices comparison–Mediterranean environment
Effectiveness of the Miyawaki method in Mediterranean forest
restoration programs
Bartolomeo Schirone
Antonello Salis
Federico Vessella
Received: 26 January 2010 / Revised: 18 May 2010 / Accepted: 18 May 2010 / Published online: 17 June 2010
Ó International Consortium of Landscape and Ecological Engineering and Springer 2010
Abstract In the 1980s, Professor Akira Miyawaki intro-
duced a new and innovative reforestation approach in
Japan with the challenge to restore indigenous ecosystems,
and maintaining global environments, including disaster
prevention and carbon dioxide (CO
) mitigation. Here,
natural vegetation successional stages (from bare soil to
mature forest) are practically forced and reproduced,
accelerating natural successional times. The Miyawaki
method has been applied in the Far East, Malaysia, and
South America; results have been very impressive, allow-
ing quick environmental restorations of strongly degraded
areas. However, these applications have always been made
on sites characterized by high precipitation. The same
method has never been used in a Mediterranean context
distinguished by summer aridity and risk of desertification.
A first test was carried out by the University of Tuscia,
Department of Forest and Environment (DAF), 11 years
ago in Sardinia (Italy) on an area where traditional refor-
estation methods had failed. For an appropriate Miyawaki
application on this site, the original method was modified
while maintaining its theoretical principles. Results
obtained 2 and 11 years after planting are positive: having
compared the traditional reforestation techniques, plant
biodiversity using the Miyawaki method appears very high,
and the new coenosis (plant community) was able to evolve
without further operative support after planting. Therefore,
the implementation of supplementary technique along with
cost reduction might provide a new and innovative tool to
foresters and ecological engineering experts for Mediter-
ranean environmental reforestation program.
Keywords Ecological restoration
Potential natural vegetation Ecotechnology
Reforestation practices comparison
Mediterranean environment
Global climatic changes, together with recent rapid
urbanization and industrialization, have been the main
anthropogenic effects worldwide in destroying natural
environments and increasing risk of desertification. They
suggest the need for performing more environmental con-
servation activity, as well as using innovative environ-
mental recovery activities. In the last two decades,
scientists have developed new insights both in theoretical
and in practical actions for restoration and reconstruction
of natural ecosystems (Clewell and Aronson 2007; Falk
et al. 2006; Jordan et al. 1987; Perrow and Davy 2002a, b;
1980; Miyawaki 1975, 1981). Natural restoration is
strictly related to increased sustainability and includes
rehabilitation of ecosystem functions, enlargement of spe-
cific ecosystems, and enhancement of biodiversity resto-
ration (Stanturf John and Madsen 2004). At the ecological
level, restoration is also defined as ‘an intentional activity
that initiates or accelerates recovery of an ecosystem with
respect to its health, integrity and sustainability’ (Aronson
et al. 2002).
Degraded plant communities are generally quite difficult
or sometimes impossible to restore (Van Diggelen and
Marrs 2003). More than 200 years of reforestation practice
has demonstrated that forest recovery takes a very long
B. Schirone A. Salis F. Vessella (&)
Dipartimento di Tecnologie, Ingegneria e Scienze dell’Ambiente
e delle Foreste (D.A.F.), Universita
degli Studi della Tuscia,
via S. Camillo de Lellis, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
e-mail: vessella@unitus.it
Landscape Ecol Eng (2011) 7:81–92
DOI 10.1007/s11355-010-0117-0
time, frequently with unsatisfying results. Nowadays, it is
possible to plant plantations of several species, but the
transition from the simple plantation to a forest community
able to evolve and sustain itself, according to the natural
successional pattern, is still a rare event (for Italy, cf.
Bellarosa et al. 1996). On the other hand, the mere
superficial appearance of vegetation restoration should be
avoided. It is essential to restore the natural vegetation
using a combination of native species that conform to the
potential trend of the habitat and to try to restore the whole
specific ecosystem of a region (Miyawaki 1992).
In a natural forest cycle, as Clements (1916) described,
annual plants on barren land are succeeded by perennial
grass, sun-tolerant shrubs, light-demanding, fast-growing
trees, and finally natural forests; each step may require
decades, and the climax vegetation could be formed after
two centuries or more (Connell and Slatyer 1977) (Fig. 1a).
Currently, most forest reforestation programs adopt a
scheme of planting one or more early successional species;
after successful establishment, they are gradually replaced
by intermediate species (either naturally or by planting),
until late successional species arise. This pattern tries to
simulate natural processes of ecological succession, from
pioneer species to climax vegetation. However, it requires
several silvicutural practices and normally takes a long
time (Fig. 1b).
Taking several hundred years to complete the process of
forest restoration is too long for us; because we live in a
world where industry and urbanization are developing very
rapidly, improvement of an alternative reforestation tech-
nique that reduces these times could be a useful tool
(Miyawaki 1999). One reliable forest restoration method is
the ‘native forests by native trees,’ based on the vegeta-
tion–ecological theories (Miyawaki 1993a, b, 1996, 1998b;
Miyawaki and Golley 1993; Miyawaki et al. 1993; Padilla
and Pugnaire 2006) proposed by Prof. Akira Miyawaki and
applied first in Japan. According to this method, restoring
native green environments, multilayer forests, and natural
biocoenosis is possible, and well-developed ecosystems
can be quickly established because of the simultaneous use
of intermediate and late successional species in plantations
(Fig. 1c). The Miyawaki method involves surveying the
potential natural vegetation (sensu Tu
xen 1956) of the area
to be reforested and recovering topsoil to a depth of 20–
30 cm by mixing the soil and a compost from organic
materials, such as fallen leaves, mowed grass, etc. In this
way, the time of the natural process of soil evolution,
established by the vegetational succession itself, is
The potential natural vegetation indicates the potential
capacity of the land, theoretically considered, as to which
vegetation it can sustain (Miyawaki 1992). Tree species
must be chosen from the forest communities of the region
in order to restore multilayer natural or quasinatural forests.
For a correct choice, based on reconstructing the potential
natural vegetation, several analyses (e.g., phytosociological
investigation) are required. Detection of the soil profile,
topography, and land utilization can improve our grasp of
the potential natural vegetation. After these field surveys,
all intermediate and late successional species are mixed
and densely planted, with as many companion species as
possible (Kelty 2006; Miyawaki 1998a), and soil between
them is mulched. Mulching is needed to prevent soil dry-
ness, erosion on steep slopes even with heavy rainfall,
weed growth, protect seedlings against cold, and as manure
as materials decompose (Miyawaki 2004). In fact, bio-
coenotic relationships involve autoregulations between
species, favoring a dynamic equilibrium and avoiding any
further silvicultural practice and need no insecticides or
herbicides (with some exceptions). Indeed, in the
Miyawaki method, the principles of self-organized criti-
cality and cooperation theories have been essentially
applied (Bak et al. 1988; Callaway
1997; Camazine et al.
2003; Padilla and Pugnaire 2006; Sachs et al. 2004). It has
Fig. 1 Successional stages as
would follow in natural
conditions (a), adopting
traditional reforestation
methods (b) and the Miyawaki
method (c)
82 Landscape Ecol Eng (2011) 7:81–92
been demonstrated that multilayer quasinatural forests can
be built in 15–20 years in Japan and 40–50 years in
Southeast Asia by ecological reforestation based on the
system of natural forests. Results obtained by application
of the Miyawaki method in about 550 locations in Japan, as
well as in Malaysia, Southeast Asia, Brazil, Chile, and in
some areas of China, were found to be successful, allowing
quick environmental restorations of strongly degraded
areas (Miyawaki 1989, Miyawaki 1999).
Until now, the Miyawaki method has been applied in
countries characterized by cold-temperate and tropical
climatic regimes, which do not experience summer aridity
stress and potential risk of desertification (increased by
global change). Thus, the Mediterranean context could be
considered an interesting test to assure the effectiveness of
such a method in other important biomes, even with high
biodiversity hotspots. This paper represents the first test of
reforestation practices in the Mediterranean Basin using the
Miyawaki method. It also offers a comparison between
traditional methods and the proposed one, because the test
has been carried out on target sites where traditional
reforestation approaches are widely used but have mostly
Materials and methods
Experiment locations and descriptions
On May 1997, we planted two experimental plots at the
Municipality of Pattada (North Sardinia) on sites 2 km
from each other in a straight line (Fig. 2 shows approxi-
mate location of the fields using a Digital Elevation Model
with ESRI ArcMap 9.1 GIS software). In this area, refor-
estation programs have been periodically conducted with
traditional methods since 1905, mainly using Pinus pin-
aster Aiton (maritime pine), Pinus halepensis Miller
(Aleppo pine), Cedrus atlantica (Endl.) Carrie
re (Atlas
cedar), Quercus suber L. (cork oak), Quercus pubescens
Willd. (downy oak), and Castanea sativa Miller (sweet
chestnut). Techniques involved planting along countour
lines after forming gradoni or terraces by subsoiling, or
along the maximum slope with subsoiling and holes.
To test the Miyawaki method, an experimental plot
(named site A) of 4,500 m
was established at Sos Vanzos
close to an artificial lake at 760 m a.s.l. Plot preparation
consisted of brush clearing and tillage in order to shape 13
strips 3.5 m wide (Fig. 3a shows the planting scheme with
Fig. 2 Location of the study
areas. Black solid circle and
square indicate, respectively,
site A and site B; white solid
circles show reforested areas
with traditional methods used as
Landscape Ecol Eng (2011) 7:81–92 83
different mulching operations). Potted tree seedlings were
planted at a density of approximately 8,600 plants/hectare.
A second plot (site B) of 1,000 m
is near Uca de s’abba
lughida at 885 m a.s.l. (Fig. 3b shows mulched strips and
plant density used). The preparation was similar to site A
but covered the entire plot. Here seedlings were planted at
a density of approximately 21,000 plants/hectare ca.
A description of the natural environment was carried out
before implantation in order to check the potential natural
vegetation and to proceed with species selection. Table 1
shows the main site characteristics as results of the field
survey, and Fig. 4 compares the Mediterranean climate
pattern with others where the Miyawaki method was suc-
cessful. The data refers to 21 years of records, and the
Walter and Lieth 1960 diagrams were obtained using the
climatol statistical package implemented in R 2.7.1 for
Linux (Guijarro 2009). Phytosociological analysis was
carried out and a check-list of spontaneous species, with
percentage of presence, is reported in Table 2. From this
investigation, it was assumed that a mixed forest with
Quercus ilex L. (holm oak), Quercus suber L., Quercus
pubescens Willd., and Ilex aquifolium L. (common holly)
represented the natural potential vegetation for the area. On
both plots, seeds were collected from nearby natural forest
stands and germinated in four greenhouses owned by the
Regional Forest Directorate of Sardinia. After two or three
leaves had sprouted, seedlings were cultivated in plastic
bags for 1 year. Table 3 shows the species used on site A
and site B, selected according to the natural phytocoenoses.
After planting, mulching with straw, green material
(Navarro-Cerrillo et al. 2009)asTrifolium subterraneum L.
(in site A), and sawdust (in sites A and B) were applied.
Several changes from the original Miyawaki method
were introduced on sites A and B in order to better test its
effectiveness to local environmental conditions. The first
20–30 cm of native soil was labored, and no new soil was
Fig. 3 Planting schemes of
experimental fields. Different
mulching operations in site A
strips (a), mulched strips in site
B with plant distribution (b)
Table 1 Site description
(topographic, surrounding land
cover and natural vegetation
Site A Site B
Locality Sos Vanzos Uca de s’abba lughida
Coordinates 40°37
N; 9°11
N; 9°10
Altitude (m a.s.l.) 760 885
Surface (m
) 4,500 1,000
Slope (degrees) 4 0
Aspect NE Flat
Geology Granite Granite
Soil Lithic and Dystric Xerorthents Lithic and Dystric Xerorthents
Land cover (%)
Rocks 1 5
Bare layer 1 2
Litter layer 0 0
Herbaceous layer 60 93
Shrub layer 95 0
Arboreal layer 0 0
Mean height (cm)
Herbaceous layer 10–25 30–40
Shrub layer 100–120 0
Arboreal layer 0 0
84 Landscape Ecol Eng (2011) 7:81–92
added; some autochthonous early-successional species (e.g.
Pinus pinaster L. and shrubs) were planted together with
late-successional ones to improve plant community resil-
ience (Castro et al. 2002, 2004;Go
mez-Aparicio et al.
2004; Lortie et al. 2004); mulching was provided using
different types of material, as mentioned above, instead of
using only straw.
Data collection and analysis
To estimate the efficiency of this adapted Miyawaki
method to Mediterranean environments, as well as the
relationships in terms of interspecific competition, three
surveys were performed in both experimental plots: in
September 1998, April 1999 and, 10 years later, March
2009. GPS plant position, height (h) and DBH (diameter at
breast height) [3 cm were collected for each individual.
Moreover, mortality percentage trend and relative fre-
quency (defined as number of individuals from each spe-
cies by total number of plants) were computed.
Comparisons were done with two nearby coeval sites
where traditional reforestation techniques were applied to
better understand the differences in plants growth, forest
composition, and vegetation cover in percentage. The first
one (conventionally named R15, 452 m
) is a 15-year-old
stand north of site A in a flat area, with Pinus pinaster L.
and Quercus ilex L. planted in holes, with a spontaneous
shrub layer of Arbutus unedo L., Phyllirea latifolia L., and
Erica arborea L.; a conventional 12-m-radius sampling
area was selected for recording height and diameter of all
plants. The other plot (named G15, 400 m
) with the same
age of R15, approximately east of site B, belongs to a
gradoni reforested site with Pinus pinaster L., Quercus ilex
L., Rosmarinus officinalis L., and the natural presence of
Arbutus unedo L., Phyllirea latifolia L. and Erica arborea
L. In this case, due to the position of the site, i.e., along the
mountainside with slope greater than 30%, a 4 9 100-m
transect was set up following the contour line.
Comparison between experimental plots
After planting on May 1997, plots were monitored and
percent mortality was calculated for each species. On site
A, 1,450 of 1,723 plants survived 1 year after planting;
after 2 years, this number was reduced to 1,327, and after
Fig. 4 Climate diagrams
according to Walter and Lieth
1960. Diga di Monte Lerno in
Sardinia (closed to Pattada)
shows typical Mediterranean
climate pattern (a); Bintulu
(Malaysia), Nara (Japan), and
m (Brazil) climate patterns,
where the Miyawaki method has
been successfully applied (bd).
T and P indicate temperature
curve and precipitation time
series. Grey rectangles on x-axis
show probable frost months
(when monthly values are
Landscape Ecol Eng (2011) 7:81–92 85
Table 2 Major spontaneous species composition outside experimental fields according to Braun-Blanquet (1928)
Species Site A Site B
Allium roseum L. ?
Anagallis arvensis L. ?
Anthemis arvensis L. ?
Anthoxanthum odoratum L. ?
Aphanes bonifaciensis (Buser) Holub ?
Arbutus unedo L. 2 ?
Artemisia sp. ?
Asphodelus microcarpus Salzm. et Viv. 1 ?
Avena barbata L. 3
Briza maxima L. 22
Briza minor L. 1
Bromus hordaceus L. 3
Bromus sp. ?
Cerastium sp. ?
Cistus incanus L. ??
Cistus monspeliensis L. 2 ?
Cistus salvifolius L. 3 ?
Crepis sp. ?
Cynosurus cristatus L. ? 1
Cytisus villosus Pourret ??
Daphne gnidium L. 1 ?
Delphinium halteratum S. et S. ?
Echium vulgare L. ?
Erica arborea L. 3 ?
Erica scoparia L. 4 ?
Erodium botryus (Cav.) Bertol. 1
Genista corsica (Loisel.) DC. 3 ?
Geranium columbinum L. ?
Geranium molle L. 1
Halimium halmifolium (L.) Willk. 2 ?
Helianthemun sp. ?
Hypericum perforatum
L. subsp veronense (Schrank) Fro
hlich ?
Lathyrus angulatus L. ?
Lavandula stoechas L. 1 ?
Linum bienne Miller ?
Lotus subbiflorus Lag. ? 1
Lupinus micranthus Guss. ?
Ornithopus compressus L. ?
Pancratium illyricum L. ?
Phyllirea angustifolia L. 2 ?
Plantago lanceolata L. ??
Polygala vulgaris L. ?
Ranunculus flabellatus Desf. ? 2
Rumex acetostella L. ?
Sanguisorba minor Scop. 3
Sedum caeruleum L. ?
Sedum stellatum L. ?
86 Landscape Ecol Eng (2011) 7:81–92
12 years, 672 individuals were still alive (mortality rates
equal to 15.84%, 22.98%, and 61%, respectively). Site B
showed higher rates of mortality except from the first
survey: in 1998, the number of plants that had survived was
1,920; the next year we counted 1,385, and in 2009 there
were 336, with mortality percentages of 10.24%, 35.25%,
and 84.29%, respectively. Note that in site A, 20 species
survived but Salvia officinalis L., a shrub species of sec-
ondary importance, did not. On site B, a significant loss of
subordinate species has occurred since 1999, and a con-
sequent decrease of plant diversity (nine species of 23) was
observed. The main forest species survived, i.e., maritime
pine and the oak group, thus maintaining the possibility of
achieving intermediate and terminal vegetation stages.
Moreover, the presence of Prunus spinosa L. was observed
as an autochthonous species. It has to be kept in mind that
on the same site, other reforestation programs with tradi-
tional methods still failed, mainly due to a relevant water
stagnation. Compared with site A, the success obtained on
site B was less evident, as confirmed by Fig. 5, where
histograms of mortality percentages are reported.
Further comparisons regard the role played by each
species in the plant community as a result of interspecific
competition and natural evolution of vegetation (Padilla
and Pugnaire 2006). By monitoring the number and height
of individuals per species, it was possible to analyze their
position in terms of relevance within the experimental
plots. A K index defined as h 9 m shows a quali-quantita-
tive picture of vegetation dynamism, pointing out which
species constitute both the upper layer and the understory.
Comparisons were possible between sites A and B, as
illustrated in Fig. 6 and Table 4. Diameter was not
considered as a parameter for comparison because most
species, except for maritime pine, showed mean DBH
values \3 cm.
On both plots, the role of Pinus pinaster L. is
undoubtedly the dominant representative of the early-suc-
cessional species. Mean height was 433.24 cm on site A,
around 2.5 times greater than cork oak (the second species
in order of significance), whereas a mean of 325.5 cm was
registered on site B where it towers above the remaining
species. Also, the K index values for Pinus pinaster are
much higher than the other species, emphasizing the
importance of this species on both plots. In fact, K refers to
an overstory layer distinguished only by this species, as
abundant and relevant in terms of number of individuals
and growth performance. Because of its ability to establish
in such ecological contexts, maritime pine is also found in
other traditional reforestation programs all over Sardinia.
Some differences in biodiversity richness of the experi-
mental plots were recorded within the forest understory: on
site A, the oak group is present with holm, pubescent, and
cork oak, along with their secondary early successional
species, such as Spartium junceum L., Arbutus unedo L.,
and Rosmarinus officinalis L., whreas on site B, interme-
diate species are represented only by cork oak and holm
oak in a simpler plant community.
Comparison of the Miyawaki method with traditional
reforestation techniques
Estimating the effectiveness of the Miyawaki method needs
a comparison with other reforestation practices traditionally
applied on the same ecological context, mainly focused on
Table 2 continued
Species Site A Site B
Senecio vulgaris L. ?
Serapias lingua L. ?
Sheradia arvensis L. ?
Silene gallica L. ?
Silene sp. 1
Stachys glutinosa L. ?
Trifolium strictum L. ?
Trifolium subterraneum L. 1
Tuberaria guttata (L.) Fourr. ??
Vicia sp. ?
Vicia tenuissima (Bieb) Sch. et Th. ?
Viola corsica Nyman subsp limbarae Merxm. et Lippert 2
Vulpia muralis (Kunth) Nees ? 4
A Arboreal, B shrub, C herbaceous layers. Abundance of each species is represented by six class coverage [\1% (?); 1–20% (1); 20–40% (2);
40–60% (3); 60–80% (4); 80–100% (5)]
Landscape Ecol Eng (2011) 7:81–92 87
growth performance of selected species. Table 5 describes
the species composition of two selected plots with traditional
reforestation techniques as result of test areas performed, in
comparison with the Miyawaki ones. It is important to note
that the majority of reforested sites in the area have been
planned using traditional techniques; thus, the plots we have
selected for comparison should be considered as a significant
sample of a wider scenario.
Both R15 and G15 show an abundant presence of
spontaneous shrub species, including Arbutus unedo, Erica
arborea, and Phyllirea latifolia, whereas maritime pine
forms the overstory layer with a density of 242 plants/ha in
R15 and 175 plants/ha in G15 instead of 1,040 and
800 plants/ha recorded on sites A and B. The vegetation
structure is simple in both cases, and associated planted
species are represented only by holm oak (354 and 200
plants/ha, respectively) and other secondary species, such
as Rosmarinus officinalis and Cedrus atlantica (a nonau-
tochthonous species used on G15). Except for Pinus pin-
aster, the growth performance of secondary species,
measured by plant density and mean height (including
holm oak), is severely influenced by the massive presence
of spontaneous shrub species that apply a strong competi-
tion. Shared investigated species reveal different vegetative
condition and growth performance depending on local
constraints. Mean and theoretical annual increase of height
(Fig. 7) indicate a good affirmation of maritime pine on
site A, site B, and G15, whereas on R15, it suffers com-
petition by Arbutus unedo, partially balanced by difference
in density species (44 plants/ha of Arbutus unedo against
242 plants/ha of Pinus pinaster). Although mean height of
species common to all study areas does not differ signifi-
cantly, plant density on site A is around four times higher
than on R15 and five times on G15, whereas on site B,
maritime pine densities are 3 and 4.5 times higher than on
traditional reforested plots were observed.
Discussion and conclusions
A large debate concerning naturalistic silviculture, natu-
ralization of degraded forests, and landscape restoration
Fig. 5 Mortality rates in experimental fields. Percentage measured during three surveys for each species on site A (a); result on site B (b). X-axis
labels refer to the acronyms in Table 3
Table 3 List of selected species planted in Miyawaki experimental
fields (total number of individuals per plot and relative percentage)
Species Acronym Site A Site B
n % n %
Acer monspessulanum L. AM 21 1.22 30 1.40
Arbutus unedo L. AU 50 2.90 11 0.51
Castanea sativa Mill. CS 42 2.44
Celtis australis L. CA 22 1.28 37 1.73
Fraxinus ornus L. FO 8 0.46 9 0.42
Ilex aquifolium L. IA 112 6.50 125 5.84
Juniperus oxicedrus L. JO 45 2.10
Laurus nobilis L. LN 22 1.28 19 0.89
Ligustrum vulgare L. LV 126 7.31 13 0.61
Malus domestica Borkh. MD 21 1.22 19 0.89
Myrtus communis L. MC 19 1.10 95 4.44
Phyllirea angustifolia L. PA 1 0.06
Phyllirea latifolia L. PL 203 9.49
Pinus pinaster L. PP 273 15.84 155 7.25
Pyrus communis L. PC 19 1.10 22 1.03
Quercus ilex L. QI 300 17.41 394 18.42
Quercus pubescens Willd. QP 268 15.55 93 4.35
Quercus suber L. QS 11 0.64 621 29.03
Rosmarinus officinalis L. RO 23 1.33 23 1.08
Salvia officinalis L. SO 5 0.29 4 0.19
Sorbus torminalis (L.)
ST 18 1.04 24 1.12
Spartium junceum L. SJ 53 3.08 21 0.98
Taxus baccata L. TB 251 14.57 126 5.89
Thymus vulgaris L. TV 24 1.12
Viburnum tinus L. VT 58 3.37 26 1.22
Total 1723 100.00 2139 100.00
88 Landscape Ecol Eng (2011) 7:81–92
has recently arisen (de Dios et al. 2007; Falk et al. 2006;
Jordan et al. 1987; Perrow and Davy 2002a; Romano 1986;
Van Andel and Aronson 2006; Walker and del Moral
2003), that provides interesting theoretical principles that
can be tested through practical actions (Clewell and
Aronson 2007; Padilla and Pugnaire 2006; Perrow and
Table 4 Total number of individuals per plot (n), mean height (h) and standard deviation (SD) in cm, relative frequency in percentage (m %), and
K index of each species within both experimental fields 12 years after planting
Species Site A Site B
nh± (SD) m (%) Knh± (SD) m (%) K
Acer monspessulanum L. 2 40.00 ± (14.14) 0.30 0.12 0 0 0 0
Arbutus unedo L. 41 32.68 ± (4.15) 6.10 1.99 0 0 0 0
Castanea sativa Mill. 1 10 0.15 0.015
Celtis australis L. 3 26.67 ± (28.86) 0.45 0.12 0 0 0 0
Fraxinus ornus L. 1 250 0.15 0.375 0 0 0 0
Ilex aquifolium L. 23 45.22 ± (30.57) 3.42 1.54 0 0 0 0
Juniperus oxicedrus L. 30 36.15 ± (18.5) 8.93 3.23
Laurus nobilis L. 3 30.00 ± (17.32) 0.45 0.135 0 0 0 0
Ligustrum vulgare L. 29 32.76 ± (52.64) 4.32 1.41 4 30 ± (8.16) 1.19 0.36
Malus domestica Borkh. 7 100 ± (45.46) 1.04 1.04 0 0 0 0
Myrtus communis L. 1 10 0.15 0.015 4 10 ± (1.41) 1.19 0.12
Phyllirea angustifolia L. 1 70 0.15 0.10
Phyllirea latifolia L. –– 00 0 0
Pinus pinaster L. 208 433.24 ± (143.6) 30.95 134.09 80 325.5 ± (38.59) 23.81 77.5
Pyrus communis L. 10 71 ± (65.06) 1.49 1.06 10 60 ± (61.23) 2.98 1.79
Quercus ilex L. 159 34.15 ± (32.11) 23.66 8.08 96 40.83 ± (36.22) 28.57 11.66
Quercus pubescens Willd. 116 23.62 ± (27.55) 17.26 4.08 8 10 ± (5.34) 2.38 0.24
Quercus suber L. 7 174.29 ± (49.61) 1.04 1.81 96 77.5 ± (51.94) 28.57 22.14
Rosmarinus officinalis L. 15 89.33 ±
(33.9) 2.23 1.99 0 0 0 0
Salvia officinalis L. 00 0 0 00 0 0
Sorbus torminalis (L.) Crantz 4 35 ± (50) 0.60 0.21 8 40 ± (12.9) 2.38 0.95
Spartium junceum L. 29 110.69 ± (62.16) 4.32 4.78 0 0 0 0
Taxus baccata L. 9 33.33 ± (38.08) 1.34 0.45 0 0 0 0
Thymus vulgaris L. –– 00 0 0
Viburnum tinus L. 3 10 ± 0 0.45 0.045 0 0 0 0
Dashes indicate species not planted, and zero values refer to planted species that did not survive in 2009
Fig. 6 K index recorded during field surveys in site A (histogram a)
and site B (histogram b) as key index of interspecific competition and
species relevance within coenosis. Values for maritime pine are
shown up to the black bar to better represent the other values using an
appropriate y-axis scale. X-axis labels refer to the acronyms in
Table 3
Landscape Ecol Eng (2011) 7:81–92 89
Davy 2002b; Vallauri and Chauvin 1997). In the Medi-
terranean Basin, the environment has been modified and
exploited by humans over the course of thousands of years.
In particular, forests have experienced many processes that
have led to degradation and consequent soil loss as
reported since the fourth century B.C. by Plato in Critias.
Also, because of these age-old anthropogenic impacts, in
the last two centuries, all reforestation methods adopted in
Mediterranean countries demonstrated that a long time is
need to get a complete environmental restoration.
The Miyawaki method could offer a quicker and more
effective reforestation approach in the Mediterranean
environment, adopting naturalistic theoretical principles
not previously tested in Mediterranean Europe, which has
the additional challenge of a seasonal climate characterized
by summer aridity compounded in several cases by winter
cold, and also by thin soils. Here we provide a comparison
between the Miyawaki method and two other reforestation
methods (gradoni and holes) traditionally applied in Med-
iterranean countries. The results showed a more rapid
development of trees on the Miyawaki plots, in particular,
early-successional species. The benefits over previous
methods are remarkable and comparable with those
obtained by Miyawaki in Asia and South America. At the
same time, some of the changes made in this study to better
fit the method to the Mediterranean environment seem to
be particularly useful. First, we used tillage to improve soil
water storage over the winter and reduce water stress
during the summer. Summer aridity implies the soil would
be able to stock winter rainfalls in order to allow the plants
avoiding water stress of the next season. This outcome has
been achieved using tillage; such action is necessary and
should be enough, even if it would be possible to get a
better performance by adding compost or local soil.
Mulching with green material does not seem effective
(Navarro-Cerrillo et al. 2009), whereas mulching with dry
material has been useful. Moreover, avoiding clearing all
brush is opportune for the Mediterranean environment, in
contrast with some studies (cf. Bernetti 1995; Goor and
Barney 1968; Metro et al. 1978; Molina et al. 1989; Weber
1977), as well as adopting the plantation in worked strips.
Nowadays, benefits of this method are acknowledged by
several authors (cf. Schirone et al. 2004).
In the Mediterranean scenario, adding some early suc-
cessional species to the intermediate- and late-successional
ones was very useful. This solution was already tested by
Miyawaki and Abe in Brazil (2004), even if no benefits
were recorded. Considering the results of our work, early-
successional species might have been used in an excessive
number, thus applying negative competition on the inter-
mediate- and late-successional stages. Therefore, the
number of plants should be reduced in future works, and
the optimal plant density will have to be tested. In any case,
Table 5 Description of species on the traditional reforestation plots and comparison with the Miyawaki ones
Name of species Number/plot Relative frequency [m (%)] Height ± standard deviation (SD) Number of
R15 G15 A B R15 G15 A B R15 G15 A B R15 G15 A B
Arbutus unedo L. 280 41 0 2.38 30.3 6.1 0 500 ± (35.75)
G15; A
110 ± (20.6)
R15; A
32.68 ± (4.15)
G15; R15
0 44 2000 205 0
Cedrus atlantica Endl. 6 2.27 162 ± (54.64) 150
Erica arborea L. 45 65 53.56 24.62 115 ± (12.78)
130 ± (18.6)
995 1625
Pinus pinaster L. 11 7 208 80 13.08 2.65 30.95 23.81 376.36 ± (72.97)
425.71 ± (25.07)
433.24 ± (143.6)
325.5 ± (38.59)
R15; G15;A
242 175 1040 800
Phyllirea latifolia L. 10 95 0 11.9 35.98 0 100 ± (15.5)
140 ± (20.34)
0 221 2375 0
Quercus ilex L. 11 7 159 96 19.08 3.03 23.66 28.57 69.37 ± (23.26)
146.25 ± (38.15)
34.15 ± (32.11)
40.83 ± (36.22)
242 175 795 960
Rosmarinus officinalis L. 3 15 0 1.14 2.23 0 80 ± (14.92) 89.33 ± (33.9) 0 75 75 0
Bolded numerals in Number/plot column (number of plants/plot) show the values of unplanted species, superscript symbols in each row indicate significant pairwise tests at 0.05 alpha probability level
90 Landscape Ecol Eng (2011) 7:81–92
results support the effectiveness of alternative applicable
approaches in the Mediterranean area. In fact, low plant
density has been traditionally retained as appropriate in
arid and semiarid environments in order to avoid compe-
tition for water resources between plants (Caramalli 1973;
Bernetti 1995), but it is now evident that cooperative
processes, e.g., mutual shading, prevail over competitive
processes (Callaway 1997). High plant density also reduces
the impact of acorn predators, thus encouraging oak
regeneration, i.e., the main late-successional forest species
in Mediterranean environments (Go
mez et al. 2003). In
addition, excellent plant stock remains fundamental for
planting success in harsh environments (Palacios et al.
Finally, these results could offer a chance to introduce a
new method into the Mediterranean context that is able to
reduce the time for a complete environmental restoration.
An economic analysis might be performed to estimate the
costs of postplanting silvicultural practices with traditional
reforestation methods and compare them with the Miy-
awaki method. Indeed, labor need is high, and planting
costs are quite expensive because of the high plant density
required. On the other hand, no human care, such as
weeding or thinning, is needed after planting, and under-
growth with late-successional species are immediately on
site (Miyawaki 1998a, Miyawaki 1999). If this new
approach turns out to be more expensive, then it will be
important to take measures to make it economically
advantageous. In any case, if the high costs of the
Miyawaki method were still not competitive with the
traditional techniques on a large scale, the forest quality
achieved would make it a noteworthy tool for protected
areas and natural parks (Reque 2008), where traditional
plantings are not easily accepted because of their aesthetic
and ecological impacts.
Acknowledgments We are indebted to Regional Forest Directorate
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Carmine Sau and Dr. Francesco Mazzocchi for their valuable help and
committement on the field work performed in Pattada Municipality.
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92 Landscape Ecol Eng (2011) 7:81–92
  • ... While plantation forest cover is preferred to barren and erosion prone land, concerns have been raised regarding problems with these plantations, such as soil water and nutrient deficiencies, loss of biodiversity, and increased susceptibility to attack by pests and diseases (Forrester et al., 2005(Forrester et al., , 2006. Due to better environmental functions and ecological services of mixed plantations compared to single-species plantations (Erskine et al., 2006;Piotto, 2008;Schirone et al., 2011;Toigo et al., 2015), recently, there have been increasing reforestation efforts aiming at rebuilding mixed plantations with 10-20 native tree species in the degraded hilly lands in the region (Ren et al., 2007). ...
    ... Cinnamomum burmannii) can grow fast (Fig. 3). Restoring native forests by using a mix of pioneer and non-pioneer tree species has been widely proven as an economical effective strategy to re-forest in many extensively destroyed regions (Miyawaki, 1999;Schirone et al., 2011;Martinez-Garza et al., 2013), as well as in the present study, because this approach could decrease the time required for the succession from mixed plantation to mature forest. In addition, we also found a number of high-survival species belongs to the families, Lauraceae and Magnoliaceae (Fig. 3). ...
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    Low soil water availability in the dry season substantially influences the survival of native tree species planted in subtropical degraded hilly lands in South China. In this study, we investigated the survival and hydraulic-related traits of 16 native tree species from a six-year-old mixed plantation, to investigate whether the survival ratios of species are associated with their drought tolerance and hydraulic efficiency. Our results showed that the six-year survival ratios ranged from 1% to 96% among the 16 species, with less 25% survival for four species. Across species, the survival ratio was significantly correlated with xylem vulnerability to cavitation, hydraulic safety margin, and leaf turgor loss point. It was not correlated with sapwood density and hydraulic conductivity. These results indicated that drought tolerance was the determinant of species survival in the mixed plantation. Additionally, we found that a large proportion of high survival species were non-pioneers, indicating that mixed plantations consisted of pioneers and non-pioneers are effective and would decrease the time required for the succession from plantation to mature forest. Considering that drought is one of the most important stress factors that affect the success of forest restoration, and increases in frequency and severity in the subtropical region, we suggest drought-tolerance traits are valuable for identification of native tree species suitable for restoration projects.
  • ... Two main methodologies are commonly used to reintroduce native trees in degraded sites: the fostering of natural regeneration by mother plants (e.g. [6]) and planting seedlings produced in nurseries even basing on the vegetation-ecological theories [7]. In both cases, plant growth and development are regulated by many environmental factors, among which light is of paramount importance [8,9]. ...
  • ... As for the most combustible species, such as Pinus pinaster Aiton. and Eucalyptus globulus Labill., in case of use, a place may be reserved for them, and always outside areas where nature conservation or ecological restoration is a priority [69], such as extremely degraded areas. ...
  • ... Of the more than 1,700 forests that he planted, a very large number of them developed a resilient ecosystem within 10 years. Although the method was chiefly applied in the Far East and Latin America, it also offers opportunities in Europe [7]. ...
  • ... Celtis australis, native of thermophile mixed deciduous forests in the South Mediterranean is largely used in reforestation plans in semiarid riparian zone as well as in restoration programs of natural Mediterranean ecosystems (Schirone et al., 2011). In addition to its importance in natural Mediterranean ecosystems, C. australis is also widely planted in the green infrastructure in cities across the Southern Mediterranean (Oliveira et al., 2011;Gratani et al., 2016). ...
    Trees in Mediterranean areas frequently face severe drought stress events, due to sudden decreases in soil water availability associated to intense heat waves. The knowledge of strategies adopted by plants to cope with the environmental pressures associated to Mediterranean climate is crucial for reforestation strategies and planning future urban greening. Here we investigated the physiological and biochemical adjustments activated by Celtis australis in response to drought stress during summer. Despite widely used for reforestation in Southern Mediterranean, how C. australis responds to the severe challenges imposed by Mediterranean climate has not investigated yet. In our study, we performed analyses of water relations, gas exchange and PSII performance, the concentration of photosynthetic pigments, the activity and the concentration of primary antioxidants in plants exposed to drought stress of increasing severity. Data of our study reveal that C. australis displays both conservative water use and isohydric behavior in response to drought, and diffusive resistance mostly limits photosynthesis even at severe drought. Our study also reveals an effective down-regulation rather than permanent impairment of PSII photochemistry in response to drought stress of increasing severity, since excess electron transport due to declines in photosynthesis (-61% at severe stress, compared to control) was matched by an increase in nonphotochemical quenching (+71% at severe stress, compared to control). However, our study highlights that under severe drought, zeaxanthin (and neoxanthin) increased by 75% (and 25%), likely served an important function as chloroplast antioxidant, other than sustaining nonphotochemical quenching. Antioxidant enzymes and ascorbate also increased (+132% on average for superoxide dismutase, ascorbate peroxidase, and catalase) and contributed in countering oxidative stress in severely droughted plants. Large adjustments in the suite of physiological and biochemical traits may effectively enable C. australis to gain carbon at appreciable rates while avoiding irreversible damage to the photosynthetic apparatus even when challenged by severe drought stress, thereby making this species an excellent candidate for forest and urban plantings in sites experiencing extended periods of drought stress.
  • ... The Miyawaki Method is the afforestation method of rapid vegetation restoration based on the community succession theory. This afforestation method advocates the construction of forest with native trees (Miyawaki et al., 1993;Schirone et al., 2011;Miyawaki, 1998), which has low construction cost, less artificial control, shortened self-cultivating forest time, rich species, complete community structure and other advantages compared with the traditional afforestation method. ...
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    After a millenarian history of overexploitation, most forests in the Medi- terranean Basin have disappeared, leaving many degraded landscapes that have been re- colonized by early successional shrub-dominated communities. Common reforestation tech- niques treat these shrubs as competitors against newly planted tree seedlings; thus shrubs are cleared before tree plantation. However, empirical studies and theory governing plant- plant interactions suggest that, in stress-prone Mediterranean environments, shrubs can have a net positive effect on recruitment of other species. Between 1997 and 2001, we carried out experimental reforestations in the Sierra Nevada Protected Area (southeast Spain) with the aim of comparing the survival and growth of seedlings planted in open areas (the current reforestation technique) with seedlings planted under the canopy of preexisting shrub species. Over 18 000 seedlings of 11 woody species were planted under 16 different nurse shrubs throughout a broad geographical area. We sought to explore variation in the sign and magnitude of interactions along spatial gradients defined by altitude and aspect. In the present work, we report the results of a meta-analysis conducted with seedling survival and growth data for the first summer following planting, the most critical period for reforestation success in Mediterranean areas. The facilitative effect was consistent in all environmental situations explored (grand mean effect size d 1 5 0.89 for survival and 0.27 for growth). However, there were differences in the magnitude of the interaction, depending on the seedling species planted as well as the nurse shrub species involved. Additionally, nurse shrubs had a stronger facilitative effect on seedling survival and growth at low altitudes and sunny, drier slopes than at high altitudes or shady, wetter slopes. Facilitation in the dry years proved higher than in the one wet year. Our results show that pioneer shrubs facilitate the establishment of woody, late-successional Mediterranean spe- cies and thus can positively affect reforestation success in many different ecological settings.
  • Article
    Traditional ecological models have focused mainly on competition between plants, but recent research has shown that some plants benefit from closely associated neighbors, a phenomenon known as facilitation. There is increasing experimental evidence suggesting that facilitation has a place in mainstream ecological theory, but it also has a practical side when applied to the restoration of degraded environments, particularly drylands, alpine, or other limiting habitats. Where restoration fails because of harsh environmental conditions or intense herbivory, species that minimize these effects could be used to improve performance in nearby target species. Although there are few examples of the application of this "nursing" procedure worldwide, experimental data are promising, and show enhanced plant survival and growth in areas close to nurse plants. We discuss the potential for including nurse plants in restoration management procedures to improve the success rate of such projects.