Resource Details

Silvicultural and economic aspects of pure and mixed native tree species plantations on degraded pasturelands in humid Costa Rica

Literature: Journal Articles

Piotto, D., Craven, D., Montagnini, F., and Alice, F. 2010, “Silvicultural and economic aspects of pure and mixed native tree species plantations on degraded pasturelands in humid Costa Rica”, New Forests, vol. 39, pp. 369-385.

Contact Info


  • Yale University, School of Foresry and Environmental Studies, New Haven, CT
  • Instituto de Investigaciones y Servicios Forestales (INISEFOR), Heredia, Costa Rica


New Forests

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Species Info

  • Balizia elegans
  • Calophyllum brasiliense
  • Dipteryx oleifera
  • Genipa americana
  • Hieronyma alchorneoides
  • Jacaranda copaia
  • Pseudosamanea guachapele
  • Stryphnodendron microstachym
  • Terminalia amazonia
  • Virola koschnyi
  • Vochysia ferruginea
  • Vochysia guatemalensis


  • This study compares mixed and pure plantations of native species on former pasture in Costa Rica, considering both growth performance and economic viability, to assess the restoration potential of native species plantations.
  • Three plantations consisting of mixed or pure species plots were established at La Selva Biological Station in 1991 and 1992.  Mixed plantations consisted of 4 species each, and a total of 12 species were planted.
  • To assess growth performance, the authors measured dbh and estimated height in each plot and determined mean dbh, total height, basal area, total volume, aboveground biomass, and tree density for each plot and each species.  They then compared species and plots using one-way ANOVAs.
  • Economic viability was estimated by calculating the net present value (NPV), benefit/cost ratio, and internal rate of return (IRR) for plots.
  • Overall, mixed plantations exhibited greater height growth, dbh, basal, area, total volume, and aboveground biomass, as well as greater NPV and IRR, than pure plantations.  Growth of some species was significantly greater statistically in mixed versus pure plantations.
  • V. guatemalensis, V. koschnyi, J. copaia, T. amazonia, and H. alchorneoides exhibited the best growth, especially in mixed plantations.  T. amazonia in particular is promising as a restoration species due to its good growth performance and varied applicability.
  • More long-term research on performance of native species is necessary, as initial growth and survival are not always indicative of later performance.  In this study, C. brasiliense was initially considered one of the most promising species but experienced complete mortality after 15 years in pure plantations.
  • The authors demonstrate that mixed plantations are more productive than pure plantations and are thus better choices for projects concerned with carbon sequestration.  Furthermore, mixed plantations are more resilient against pests and diseases.
  • Few studies have compared the economic viability of pure and mixed native species plantations.  The traditionally greater market for exotic species, the lack of silvicultural information on native species, and unstable native timber prices make more widespread adoption of native plantations challenging.
  • V. guatemalensis, V. koschnyi, and H. alchorneoides are especially economically viable species due to either high production or highly valued timber.


Related Publications and Projects

Geographical Region

  • Southern Central America
  • Ecosystems

  • Tropical Wet Forest
  • Country

  • Costa Rica
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