Green deserts, but not always: A global synthesis of native woody species regeneration under tropical tree monocultures

Research output: Journal contributionsScientific review articlesResearch


  • Laura H.P. Simões
  • Joannès Guillemot
  • Carlos C. Ronquim
  • Emanuela W.A. Weidlich
  • Bart Muys
  • Matheus S. Fuza
  • Renato A.F. Lima
  • Pedro H.S. Brancalion

Tree monocultures constitute an increasing fraction of the global tree cover and are the dominant tree-growing strategy of forest landscape restoration commitments. Their advantages to produce timber are well known, but their value for biodiversity is highly controversial and context dependent. Therefore, understanding whether, and in which conditions, they can harbor native species regeneration is crucial. Here, we conducted meta-analyses based on a global survey of the literature and on a database created with local, unpublished studies throughout Brazil to evaluate the regeneration potential of native species under tree monocultures and the way management influences this regeneration. Native woody species regeneration under tree monocultures harbors a substantial fraction of the diversity (on average 40% and 68% in the global and Brazilian surveys, respectively) and abundance (on average 25% and 60% in the global and Brazilian surveys, respectively) of regeneration observed in natural forests. Plantations with longer rotation lengths, composed of native tree species, and located adjacent to forest remnants harbor more species. Pine plantations harbor more native individuals than eucalypt plantations, and the abundance of regenerating trees is higher in sites with higher mean temperatures. Species–area curves revealed that the number of woody species under pine and eucalypt plantations in Brazil is 606 and 598 species, respectively, over an aggregated sampled area of ca. 12 ha. We highlight that the understory of tree monocultures can harbor a considerable diversity of regenerating native species at the landscape and regional scales, but this diversity strongly depends on management. Long-rotation length and favorable location are key factors for woody regeneration success under tropical tree monocultures. Therefore, tree monocultures can play a role in forest landscape restoration and conservation, but only if they are planned and managed for achieving this purpose.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere17269
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number4
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 01.04.2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

    Research areas

  • forest landscape restoration, forest restoration, forestry, natural regeneration, plantations, planted forests, understory, woody species diversity
  • Biology
  • Ecosystems Research