The one hundred tree species prioritized for planting in the tropics and subtropics as indicated by database mining

A systematic approach to tree planting and management globally is hindered by the limited synthesis of information sources on tree uses and species priorities. To help address this, the authors ‘mined' information from 23 online global and regional databases to assemble a list of the most frequent tree species deemed useful for planting according to database mentions, with a focus on tropical regions. Using a simple vote count approach for ranking species, we obtained a shortlist of 100 trees mentioned in at least 10 of our data sources (the ‘top-100' species). A longer list of 830 trees that were mentioned at least five times was also compiled. Our ‘top-100' list indicated that the family Fabaceae (syn. Leguminosae) was most common. The information associated with our mined data sources indicated that the ‘top-100' list consisted of a complementary group of species of differing uses. These included the following: for wood (mostly for timber) and fuel production, human nutrition, animal fodder supply, and environmental service provision (varied services). Of these uses, wood was most frequently specified, with fuel and food use also highly important. Many of the ‘top-100' species were assigned multiple uses. The majority of the ‘top-100' species had weediness characteristics according to ‘attribute' invasiveness databases that were also reviewed, thereby demonstrating potential environmental concerns associated with tree planting that need to be balanced against environmental and livelihood benefits. Less than half of the ‘top-100' species were included in the OECD Scheme for the Certification of Forest Reproductive Material, thus supporting a view that lack of germplasm access is a common concern for trees. A comparison of the ‘top-100' species with regionally-defined tree inventories indicated their diverse continental origins, as would be anticipated from a global analysis. However, compared to baseline expectations, some geographic regions were better represented than others. Our analysis assists in priority-setting for research and serves as a guide to practical tree planting initiatives. We stress that this ‘top-100' list does not necessarily represent tree priorities for the future, but provides a starting point for also addressing representation gaps. Indeed, our primary concern going forward is with the latter.

    Publication Type

    ICRAF Working Papers

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    Kindt R, Dawson I K, Lillesø J-P B, Muchugi A, Pedercini F, Roshetko J M, van Noordwijk M, Graudal L, Jamnadass R


    Database mining, Prioritized tree species, Tree use databases and other datasets, Tropics and subtropics