Stimulating seedling growth in early stages of secondary forest succession: a modeling approach to guide tree liberation

M. Kuijk, N.P.R. Anten, R.J. Oomen, F. Schieving

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Excessive growth of non-woody plants and shrubs on degraded lands can strongly hamper tree growth and thus secondary forest succession. A common method to accelerate succession, called liberation, involves opening up the vegetation canopy around young target trees. This can increase growth of target trees by reducing competition for light with neighboring plants. However, liberation has not always had the desired effect, likely due to differences in light requirement between tree species. Here we present a 3D-model, which calculates photosynthetic rate of individual trees in a vegetation stand. It enables us to examine how stature, crown structure, and physiological traits of target trees and characteristics of the surrounding vegetation together determine effects of light on tree growth. The model was applied to a liberation experiment conducted with three pioneer species in a young secondary forest in Vietnam. Species responded differently to the treatment depending on their height, crown structure and their shade-tolerance level. Model simulations revealed practical thresholds over which the tree growth response is heavily influenced by the height and density of surrounding vegetation and gap radius. There were strong correlations between calculated photosynthetic rates and observed growth: the model was well able to predict growth of trees in young forests and the effects of liberation there upon. Thus, our model serves as a useful tool to analyze light competition between young trees and surrounding vegetation and may help assess the potential effect of tree liberation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number345
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • natural regeneration
  • rain-forest
  • light interception
  • south kalimantan
  • carbon gain
  • costa-rica
  • canopy photosynthesis
  • subtropical forests
  • dipterocarp forest
  • tropical pasture

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