A comparative study on the impact of pine plantations on soil and vegetation development was conducted in the Ecuadorian Andes (3000–4000 m). Pine plantations of different ages under different types of management were compared with extensively grazed páramo grassland (the most common former land use) and natural forest (the formerly dominant vegetation in much of the life zone). No general impact of plantations was found, although some tendencies were identified that show that soils under pine plantations are drier and less organic. Moreover, the vegetation under pine plantations was similar to páramo grassland, though some examples of regeneration of Andean woody species were observed, as well as examples of plantations where understory was completely lacking. We concluded that the impact of pine plantations cannot be generalized but should be evaluated case by case while care is taken in implementing plantations until more knowledge is obtained about the effects on the ecosystem as a whole, especially considering their ecological importance.
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Vol. 22 • No. 2