BrazilDry (Brazil)

The BrazilDry experiment is a forest restoration project and a tree biodiversity experiment that looks into the effects of tree diversity and tree facilitation on ecosystem resistance to desertification, carbon sequestration, soil quality and fauna colonization. It was established on a former degraded farmland in the National Forest of Açu Federal Reserve, in the semi-arid Caatinga tropical forest, in July 2016.

aerial view plantation
July 2017 (drone picture)

The different community compositions were defined following a random partition design to assign random tree species assemblages to the plots. Tree species richness was 0 (control, no planting), 1 (monocultures), 2, 4, 8, or 16. The communities differed in the level of facilitation, calculated based on the Community Weighted Mean of the facilitation index (RII) for each of the 16 tree species planted. Each community composition was replicated at least 3 times.

plots BrazilDry experiment planting design BrazilDry experiment
The layout of the 155 plots within the site, and the planting layout of the 32 trees within the plots.

Site characteristics

location Açu, Northeast Brazil
former land use agriculture (10 years abandoned)
altitude 23 m
soil type Eutrophic Litholic Neosol
area 3.3 ha
no of plots 155
plot size 8 m x 13 m
no of trees planted 4800
planting date July 2016
diversity variables species richness
diversity gradient 0, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 sp.
size species pool 16
species pool Amburana cearensis
Anadenanthera colubrine
Aspidosperma pyrifolium
Bauhinia cheilantha
Cochlospermum vitifolium
Combretum leprosum
Commiphora leptophloeos
Cynophalla hastata
Handroanthus impetiginosus
Libidibia ferrea
Mimosa tenuiflora
Piptadenia stipulacea
Pityrocarpa moniliformis
Poincianella gardneriana
Pseudobombax marginatum
Ziziphus joazeiro
contact persons Gislene Ganade

The overall goal of the experiment is to develop new restoration techniques to recover degraded dry tropical forests and fight desertification. Hence, the main aim of the experiment is to understand how species diversity and facilitation processes can influence desertification resistance and ecosystem functioning of restored forests. We will quantify desertification (soil exposure), biomass, soil erosion, soil compaction, canopy cover, and fauna colonization.

Extra information
Send an e-mail to the contact person, visit the website of the experiment or explore the publications:

  • Messier C, Bauhus J, Sousa-Silva R, Auge H, Baeten L, Barsoum N, Bruelheide H, Caldwell B, Cavender-Bares J, Dhiedt E, Eisenhauer N, Ganade G, Gravel D, Guillemot J, Hall JS, Hector A, Hérault B, Jactel H, Koricheva J, Kreft H, Mereu S, Muys B, Nock CA, Paquette A, Parker JD, Perring MP, Ponette Q, Potvin C, Reich PB, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Schnabel F, Verheyen K, Weih M, Wollni M, Zemp DC (2021) For the sake of resilience and multifunctionality, let's diversify planted forests! Conservation Letters e12829 -

photo Jul 2016 photo Jul 2016
Planting the experiment (Jul 2016)

photo March 2017
Outstanding survival (73.5 % - expectation was 30 %) at the start of the rainy season (Mar 2017)

photo Jun 2017 photo Jun 2017
Monitoring the experiment (Jun 2017)