press release
Published: 20 December 2023

Tree plantations can get better with age – but original habitats are best

Older tree plantations can be more attractive to animals who are looking for a new home than younger plantations, according to a new study from the University of Surrey. In the tropics, older plantations also welcome a greater variety of different plants and animals – though sadly, Christmas tree plantations do not become more biodiverse over time.

Across the world, people are planting more trees. This can be for wood, fuel, food – or even carbon offsetting. The problem is that tree plantations are often less biodiverse than the habitat they replace.

There are currently 223 million hectares of tree plantations globally. To study biodiversity within plantations, the researchers took a recent global map of which year these were planted. They compared that map with a database measuring how many species and individuals lived where.

The researchers hope that their analysis will help tree planters be more mindful of biodiversity, promoting UN Sustainable Development Goal 15 – Life on Land.

The research is published in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation.

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