The effectiveness of different planting frameworks for recruitment of tropical rainforest species on ex-rainforest land.
A long-term rainforest restoration experiment was established on abandoned pasture in northeastern Queensland in 1993 to examine the effectiveness of five different restoration planting methods: (T1) control (no plantings); (T2) pioneer monoculture (planting seedlings of one pioneer species, Homalanthus novoguineensis, Euphorbiaceae); (T3) Homalanthus group framework method (H. novoguineensis and eight other pioneer species); (T4) Alphitonia group framework method (Alphitonia petriei, Rhamnaceae, with eight other pioneer species); and (T5) maximum diversity method (planting pioneers, middle-phase species, and mature-phase species). We investigated temporal patterns in the (1) fate of seedlings originally planted in 1993; (2) natural recruitment of native plant species; and (3) current habitat structure (canopy cover and ground cover of grasses and invasive plants) within each restoration treatment. A total of 97% of seedlings planted in T2 died within the first 13 years and all had died by 2014. A total of 72% of seedlings planted in T3, 55.5% of seedlings planted in T4, and 55% of seedlings planted in T5 also died by 2014. By 2014, 42 species from 21 families had recruited across the experimental site, and the abundance of recruits was almost twice that recorded in 2001 and 2006. Overall, T3, T4, and T5 had the greatest diversity and abundance of recruits. By 2014, canopy cover was greatest in T3, T4, and T5 but grass cover was least in T5. It is concluded that some restoration success measures increase with planting diversity, but overall the rate of recovery is similar in framework species and maximum diversity method.