Tree species selection and seedlings lack of infective arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) could potentially contribute to low forest restoration success in Ethiopia. Hence, we evaluated the comparative field performance of Cordia Africana (C. africana), Juniperus procera (J. procera), and Podocarpus falcatus (P. falcatus) seedlings and the effect of whole soil AMF inoculation. Seedlings prepared using the existing practice were planted on a field at Chancho, Central Ethiopia. Seedlings were inoculated with six types of whole soil AMF inoculums, no inoculation being the control. Seedlings survival was determined at the end of the 11th month; relative growth rate in collar diameter (RGR-CD) and height (RGR-H) was determined at the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 11th months. We found out that the plantation site was very fertile with available phosphorus (Av P) =103.16 mg/Kg; total nitrogen (TN) = 0.376%; organic carbon (OC) = 3.12%; AMF spore abundance = 6.91±2.00 g-1. None of the P. falcatus and C. africana seedlings survived while 25% of J. procera seedlings survived. AMF inoculation did not have statistically significant effect on RGR-CD and RGR-H but conspecific inoculum resulted in significantly lower RGR-H of C. africana at the 2nd month, indicating the probability of species specific effect of AMF inoculation.
Key words: Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), Chancho, forest restoration, relative growth rate (RGR), seedlings survival.
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