Natural recovery of the evergreen forest affected by clearcutting and burning in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve, Chile

This study aimed at understanding the natural recovery of the evergreen forest a decade after being affected by clearcutting and burning, in a site located in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve (39 degrees 56' S-73 degrees 40' W). A total of 27 circular (50.2 m(2)) plots with eight subplots each were established. Floristic composition was recorded and quantitative, diametric and age structures were determined. The results show a richness of 77 vascular species (84.4 % natives), with Lophosoria quadripinnata presenting the highest relative cover (20.7 %). The presence of hemicryptophytes (35 %) indicates human intervention in the place. Trees were the main form of growth, being Drimys winteri, Saxegothaea conspicua and Amomyrtus luma the species with higher plant density. The latter two species growing under Chusquea macrostachya and Lophosoria quadripinnata cover. Drimys winteri and Embothrium coccineum were established immediately after the anthropogenic disturbance of clearcutting and burning, confirming the pioneering character of these two species after highly severe disturbances. Regeneration of Nothofagus nitida was scarce in the area, probably associated with low availability and seed dispersal capacity from surrounding forests. Understanding the early response of evergreen forests affected by anthropogenic disturbance is very important for assisting and guiding the ecological restoration of these forest ecosystems.

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