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Silva Nova

Restoring soil biology and soil functions to gain multiple benefits in new forests

We study how inoculation of former arable land with soil (including the microbiome, soil fauna and seeds / rhizomes of ground flora) from old forests along with planting targeted tree species mixtures will improve productivity and more rapidly restore forest-adapted communities and ultimately result in diverse, stable and resilient multifunctional forests.
We perform many of our experiments in controlled conditions in climate chambers and try as much as possible to integrate our results within the natural settings.


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Sofia Gomes

Assistant Professor


Martijn Bezemer



Farzad Aslani



Kostas Georgopoulos

PhD candidate

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Annemiek van Dijke

PhD candidate

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Naksha Kasal

Research Assistant


Our goals

The objectives of the project are to:​

1. Evaluate temporal and spatial responses in biomass production, flora and fauna, soil microbiota and soil functions to afforestation of former cropland in the baseline situation without assisted dispersal.

2. Quantify effects of inoculation methods regarding donor, amount and application mode of inoculum to different soil types and tree species using mesocosm approaches.

3. Expand knowledge of inoculation methods from mesocosm to field-scale implementation.

4. Develop concepts for assessment and planning of afforestation at the landscape scale and provide a decision tool for afforestation strategies including use of assisted dispersal.


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