Manual crowning versus cardboard in forest restoration: costs and effect on seedling development.
Invasive grasses are one of the biggest obstacles to be overcome in restoration plantations. Thus, developing efficient and low-cost techniques to overcome this obstacle is a challenge for science and the ecological restoration practice. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of the use of cardboard for the crowning operation on the growth of forest tree species from the Atlantic Forest biome and on the operating costs of this technique in a reforestation implemented in Seropédica, Rio de Janeiro state. The predominant vegetation of the area was of Andropogon bicornis L. An experiment was installed in randomized blocks, with two treatments and 12 replications. The treatments consisted of crowning with cardboard and crowning with hoe. The used cardboard (50×50 cm) were pre-treated with a preservative solution with CuSO4. Treatments were applied to 11 forest species from the Atlantic Forest biome: Anadenanthera colubrina var. cebil (Griseb.) Altschul, Citharexylum myrianthum Cham., Enterolobium contortisiliquum (Vell.) Morong, Eugenia brasiliensis Lam, Eugenia uniflora Lam, Handroanthus chrysotrichus (Mart. ex DC.) Mattos, Hymenaea courbaril L., Inga laurina (Sw.) Willd., Plinia cauliflora (Mart.) Kausel, Plathymenia reticulata Benth. e Triplaris americana L. Evaluations were carried out as for height, diameter at collar height (DCH) and survival rate, 6, 12 and 18 months after planting. The costs of each crowning method were also quantified. Overall, the height, DCH and growth rates did not differ between the crowning treatments for the species evaluated. However, the cardboard crowning treatment showed a higher survival rate (80%) of plants, compared with the hoe crowning (73%). The cost of the crowning with cardboard over a 12-month period was 40% lower than that of the crowning with hoe. These results show that the cardboard crowning technique can be a viable and a cost effective alternative to replace the crowning with hoe in reforestation areas with species from the Atlantic Forest biome.