Native and non-native species for dryland afforestation: bridging ecosystem integrity and livelihood support

Orna Reisman-Berman, Tamar Keasar, Noemi Tel-Zur

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Key message: We propose a silvicultural-ecological, participatory-based, conceptual framework to optimize the socioeconomic-ecological services provided by dryland afforestation, i.e. addressing the limited resources in arid areas while minimizing the harm to the environment. The framework applies the following criteria to select multifunctional tree species: (a) drought resistance, (b) minimal disruption of ecosystem integrity, and (c) maximization of ecosystem services, including supporting community livelihoods. Context: Dryland afforestation projects frequently aim to combine multiple ecological and economic benefits. Nevertheless, plant species for such projects are selected mainly to withstand aridity, while other important characteristics are neglected. This approach has resulted in planted forests that are drought-resistant, yet harm the natural ecosystem and provide inadequate ecosystem services for humans. Aims: We suggest a comprehensive framework for species selection for dryland afforestation that would increase, rather than disrupt, ecological and socio-economic services. Methods: To formulate a synthesis, we review and analyze past and current afforestation policies and the socio-ecological crises ensuing from them. Results: To increase afforestation services and to support human-community needs, both native and non-native woody species should be considered. The framework suggests experimental testing of candidate species for their compliance with the suggested species selection criteria. Furthermore, regional stakeholders are involved in evaluating, ranking, and prioritizing the candidate species according to experimental results and stakeholders’ values and needs. We exemplify our approach by describing our ongoing research project, aimed to evaluate several native and exotic Ziziphus species in the Middle East region. Conclusion: The employment of our proposed framework forms a novel community of native and non-native woody species. We discuss the ecological context of this proposal.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114
JournalAnnals of Forest Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Conceptual framework
  • Drought resistance
  • Ecosystem services
  • Forest participatory planning
  • Invasive species
  • Multi-functional forest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology


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