Fill-up for the forest

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Science  07 May 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6542, pp. 585
DOI: 10.1126/science.372.6542.585-a

Forest restoration in Costa Rica is accelerated (bottom section of image) by the application of coffee-processing waste as a deep mulch.


The restoration of degraded and disturbed habitats has become a major focus of applied ecology because of the benefits it brings to ecosystem functioning and biodiversity. Cole and Zahawi show how nutrients from agricultural waste can contribute to the recovery of tropical forest on postagricultural land. In an experiment in Costa Rica, a 0.5-meter-deep layer of coffee pulp applied to the land raised nutrient levels and inhibited the growth of ground cover, especially of pasture grasses. This input promoted a succession of forest trees and shrubs, which reached substantially greater biomass and canopy height after 2 years than vegetation in a control plot.

Ecol. Solut. Evid. 2, e12054 (2021).

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