Cedrus libani: A promising tree species for Central European forestry facing climate change?
Considering climate change, the discussion intensifies whether and to what extent exotic tree species should be taken into account for forest cultivation, especially when indigenous species are no longer able to fulfill essential forest functions. In this study, for the first time growth potential of Cedrus libani was evaluated under climatic conditions in Central Europe (Bayreuth, Germany). The sampled trees exhibited extraordinary growth with tree ring widths averaging 4.9 mm year(-1) during the past 23 years. A continuously available soil water supply enhanced radial stem growth. Thus, growth declined during the dry year of 2003, but recovered to average values the following year. Our results confirm that C. libani is a light-demanding species which is sensitive to competition and which shows a typical age trend. In a second study, we compared cambial growth in Bayreuth with a natural stand in Elmali (Turkey) in 2009. Cambial growing season in Bayreuth was 45 days longer, and radial growth rates in Bayreuth were four times higher than in Elmali. Interestingly, C. libani maintained a slow but continuous radial growth at Elmali even during the dry summer period, confirming its exceptional drought tolerance. Our results indicate a high adaption of C. libani to current and future climate conditions in Central Europe. It tolerates extreme cold in winter and prolonged droughts during summer. Thus, its promising potential for establishing stable and productive forest stands in Central Europe under a changing climate should be confirmed in further studies.