Ectomycorrhizal Reforestation -Projects in Southeast Asia

Projects in Southeast Asia

In response to the climate crisis, TMI is advocating and implementing a climate change mitigation project based on sustainable reforestation using edible mycorrhizal fungi as an incentive for the rural communities in Southeast Asia. We collaborate mycologists, soil scientists, senior scientists and other agencies including universities, government and insitutions working together to mitigate climate change. We have carried out the application of ectomycorrhizal fungi in reforestation projects in Southeast Asia.  At present, the Thailand and Indonesia project has started and begun to take shape. Vietnam projects will be start in March 2019.



In facing the land degradation in Thailand, using local mycorrhizas can greatly speed up reforestation by enhancing the growth rate of native trees. Also, inoculating with some ectomycorrhizas (EcM) when we plant the native trees especially at the seedling stage, the land could produce valuable edible mushrooms for community’s consumption when the host trees are healthy, usually after 2 to 3 years. For example, if we plant Yang Na (Dipterocarpus alatus) seedlings that are inoculated with edible mycorrhizal fungi, we and our generations could harvest these mushrooms continuously if we take good care of the forest.

Map of reforestation sites in Thailand, 2020

Introductory video:

Project Objectives

The goal of this project is to carry out community-based reforestation/restoration in deforested or plantation areas in Thailand. The work involves:

  1. To identify local mycorrhizas for native tree planting;
  2. To set up a community-based demonstration site for planting indigenous trees with these fungi;
  3. To conduct community training workshops to train villagers in identifying and managing mycorrhizas, native tree nursery management and tree planting practices. The demonstration plot will be established using a participatory approach. Community members and members of tree nurseries in this area will be recruited to plant and manage trees by using mycorrhizas in a deforested portion of the forest or a plantation area in Thailand;
  4. To increase the ability of carbon sequestration of the reforestation lands.

Project Highlights

Mycorrhizal fungi associated with plant roots increase the absorption of nutrients, particularly phosphorus, and thus enhance the growth of trees. By this reason, the technology to use mycorrhizal fungi is an effective method in reforestation. We have finally identified 10 project sites for 4 regions and 1 site in Lao PDR. In these sites, we choose native tree species such as Anisoptera costata, Shorea roxburghii, Dipterocarpus obtusifolius, Dipterocarpus alatus and Hopea odorata. We prepared a large number of seedlings inoculated with EcM for experiments to establish the most effective operative method for our project. Besides, post-planting tending are also being prepared for the anticipated severe drought in dry season.

One of the collaborators Native Species Reforestation Foundation (NSRF) has set up a website and Facebook to educate people and promote the project. The website is now on the developing process (a demo version: and will be published soon. For carbon sequestration, we collect the baseline trees data in project sites and measure the total carbon content in soil before and after the project in order to find out the positive effect of the reforestation process in carbon sequestration.

To develop biodegradable pots for seedlings, workshops from the university teams have been conducted. These include the eco-pot workshop by Ubon Ratchathani University on February 10, 2019. The pots have been experimented with different formulas: mainly using mushroom sawdust, dry cow dung, and rice starch glue. Another natural seedling container was experimented by NSRF using coir fiber, coir dust and natural glue.

After testing durability and assessing cost-effectiveness, NSRF natural pot formula is selected and now the pot’s size and shape is being developed for lowering the transportation cost.

Project Achievements

All project activities, including tree planting, training workshops and soil carbon analysis, at two of the project sites were completed in 2021. The local communities have been empowered to take care of the young seedlings.

We measured the survival rate of the seedlings from the plots in Chanthaburi and Phayao. Two years after planting, an average of 80.28% seedlings were still thriving.

In 2022, the ectomycorrhizal fungi reforestation project’s contribution to local forest research was recognized by the Royal Forest Department (RFD) in Thailand. We were selected by the Royal Initiative Project and Special Affairs Office and rewarded the Award for Supporters of RFD’s Obligation.

Collaborated partners (in alphabetical order):



As an essential carbon sink, the peatlands play a major role in the global carbon cycle and have been deeply affected by the impacts of human activity and climate change.

Indonesia contains 47% of the world’s tropical peatlands mainly peat swamp forests covering the vast lowlands between major rivers in Sumatra (8.3 million hectares), Kalimantan (6.8 million hectares), and Papua (4.6 million hectares).

Peat swamp forests form where saturated soils or frequent flooding cause the partial decay of organic material. The accumulation of so much material means tropical peat swamp forests store a lot of carbon: up to 10 to 20 times more than nearby lowland forests on mineral soil, depending on forest age and soil depth.

When a forest is cut down, the loss of aboveground carbon is obvious. But in peat swamp forests, 90 percent of the carbon is stored underground, making the problem of peatland destruction difficult to see.

This pilot initiative aims to mitigate climate change through the restoration of Indonesia’s peat swamp forests. The application of Mycorrhizal fungi can enhance the growth of native tree species. With the degradation of peatlands on the rise globally, the potential for positive impact is great.


This project is a partnership between The Mushroom Initiative (TMI) and the Forest Research and Development Centre (FRDC), one of four centers under the Research, Development & Innovation Agency of Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

Pilot Project Objectives

The objectives of the project are

  1. To establish demonstration plots of tropical peat swamp forests with native trees inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi for ecological and human protection.
  2. To disseminate restoration technology based on the application of mycorrhizal fungi in degraded tropical peat swamp forests.
  3. To set up a climate change mitigation model for measuring carbon stock in peat swamp forests to quantify the impact of mycorrhizal fungi in reforestation efforts.

Project Highlight

  1. Mycorrhizal fungi enhance host plant growth by increasing the absorption of nutrients, particularly phosphorus. As such, the application of mycorrhizal fungi is a novel and effective reforestation method. Mycorrhizal fungi used for inoculation include AMF (Gigaspora sp., Entrophospora sp., and Acaulospora sp.) and ECM (Chantharellus sp., Boletus sp., Amanita sp., and Scleroderma sinamariense).
  2. We apply the fungi to native tree species such as Melaleuca leucadendron, Combretocarpus rotundatus, Dyera polyphylla, Shorea balangeran, and Alstonia pneumatophora.
  3. Seedling containers are produced by local community partners through fair trade principles using fully biodegradable organic materials such as bamboo, purun, and rumbia.
  4. We measure changes to the carbon sink in reforested areas annually to quantify the impacts of the reforestation process on carbon sequestration.

Principle Investigator

Dr. Ir. Maman Turjaman (pictured) is a senior scientist and a well-known mycologist with a background in Mycorrhizal research in the Indonesian peatlands.

The first project site is located in Pulang Pisau Regency in Central Kalimantan, at Tumbang Nusa Forest research station (KHDTK). The site is managed by the Forestry Research Institute of Banjarbaru of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s Forestry Research, Development, and Innovation Agency.

The second project site is in the Pedamaran Limited Production Forest (LPF) in Ogan Komering Ilir Regency, South Sumatra. It is managed by the Forest Management Unit (FMU) of the Forest Service Office of South Sumatra Province.

Project Details and Update

TMI Project sites

Tumbang Nusa (Central Kalimatan)

The first TMI project location is the Tumbang Nusa Forest research station (KHDTK), a peat swamp forest in Jabiren Raya subdistrict, Pulang Pisau Regency, Central Kalimantan province.

The Tumbang Nusa KHDTK, approximately 5000 ha in size, is managed by the Forestry Research Institute of Banjarbaru, of Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s Forestry Research, Development, and Innovation Agency.

At altitude of 0 to 5 meters above sea level and an elevation of 0% to 18%, these relatively flat, secondary peat swamp forests have a humid tropical climate. The average temperature is 27oC with an average rainfall of 3383 mm annually. Dry months are from July to September. Vegetation is mainly dense natural tumih (Combretocarpus rotundatus) and several species of peat swamp trees. The endangered Bornean orangutan, the black-naped monarch, and the Oriental dwarf kingfisher live in surrounding areas.

This figure illustrates dominant vegetation cover in the measurement plot:

After a major fire in 2015, revegetation activities were conducted by various organizations. These activities included the planting of more than 25,000 seedlings by 1,700 volunteers. Other activities focused on research and development, supported by national and international funding bodies. One of these international organizations is The Mushroom Initiative, here focused on the application of Mycorrhizal fungi to restore degraded tropical peat swamp forest.

We aim for Tumbang Nusa KHDTK to become a science education site, or “edu-park,” to promote peat forest rehabilitation technology through the 3 R’s: restoration, rewetting, and revitalization.

Pedamaran Limited Production Forest (South Sumatra)

Pedamaran Limited Production Forest (LPF) covers an area of ​​10,021 hectares across three districts of South Sumatra’s OKI Regency: Pedamaran, Pedamaran Timur, and Pampangan. It is managed by the Forest Management Unit (FMU) Region V, Lempuing Mesuji, of the Forest Service Office of South Sumatra.

The Pedamaran LPF is part of the peat swamp forests located in the River Hydrological Unit (RHU) of the Sibumbung River and has an average peat depth of more than 3 meters.

The collaboration between the Forest Research Center Development (FRDC) and The Mushroom Initiative (TMI) involves a 100-hectare restoration pilot plot located in the Special Block. Revegetation activities in these areas will be carried out in stages: 10 hectares in 2019, 45 hectares in 2020, and 45 hectares in 2021.

The pilot plot is located in an area that saw serious fires in 2015. In 2019, the area was dominated by open areas in a natural succession of vegetation.

The following figures show the natural succession conditions in plot restoration area in Pedamaran LPF, South Sumatra; (a) shrimp ferns (Stenochlaena palustris) and (b) gelam (Melaleuca leucadendron):

We will be planting these diversified native tree species:

In Central Kalimantan

  1. Balangeran (Shorea balangeran)
  2. Galam (Melaleuca cajuputi)
  3. Merapat (Combretocarpus rotundatus)
  4. Pelawan merah (Tristaniopsis marguensis)
  5. Papung (Sarcotheca diversifolia)
  6. Meranti rawa (Shorea teysmanniana)
  7. Pulai (Alstonia pneumatophora)
  8. Jelutung (Dyera polyphyla)
  9. Punak (Tetramerista glabra)
  10. Gerunggang ( Cratoxylum glaucum)

In South Sumatra

  1. Balangeran (Shorea balangeran)
  2. Galam (Melaleuca cajuputi)
  3. Merapat (Combretocarpus rotundatus)
  4. Pelawan merah (Tristaniopsis marguensis)
  5. Kranji (Indum dialum)
  6. Meranti rawa (Shorea teysmanniana)
  7. Pulai (Alstonia pneumatophora)
  8. Jelutung (Dyera polyphyla)
  9. Beriang (Ploiarium alternifolium)
  10. Gerunggang ( Cratoxylum glaucum)

More native species will be identified in both sites and added from time to time.
Until 2020, we have implemented some workshops and started planting trees :

Collaboration partner in Indonesia

Forest Research and Development Centre (FRDC), is one of four centres under Research, Development & Innovation Agency under Ministry of Environment and Forestry in Indonesia.




kesiya forest is the component of Vietnam montane forest which stands out in Asia for their richness of conifer species (Sterling et al 2006). It dominated in dry montane area in southern Vietnam and acted as main vegetation of evergreen coniferous in Da Lat Plateau. Together, the wide spread P. kesiya, the Indochina endemic pine P. dalatensis, Da Lat Plateau endemic pine P. krempfii and the mainland Southeast Asian pine P. latteri covered a narrow area of the most interesting nest of pine in the world limited by Bi Doup Nui Ba National Park, Phuoc Binh National Park and Chu Yang Sin National Park.

Most of studies about ectomycorrhizas of P. kesiya focused on some limited target fungal species in forest and not included the succession of ectomycorrhizal fungi with sporocarps. Understanding the ECM fungal communities attached with P. kesiya in several stage of forest will give the full image of the sustainability of pine’s forest.

Until now, almost cultivated area of P. kesiya in Vietnam were planted by seedlings. Many trials about directly germinating were not success with less than 30% area can be cover after 3 years (From the records of Da Nhim Watershed Protection Forest). It should be caused by the lack of ECM germs in the new planting area. Understanding clearly the role of ECM community in primary success of P. kesiya will contribute to the approach of directly germinating pine seeds in field and can cut off the cost in nursery as well as the pollution of nylon bags using for seedlings.

Our project highlight:

This study is the first study about ectomycorrhizal fungal communities of cultivated pine forests in Southeast Asia. An original idea of this study is using the ECM fungal communities to understand the succession of cultivated pines forest. Another original idea is using data of ECM fungal communities to understand the primary succession of pines and apply in sustainability reforestation.

Also, this project will set up the model for reforestation of P. kesiya forest for local communities from setting up the reforestation to income generating without destroying nature from their land. We will work together with the communities, officers and related groups to develop a community-based ecotourism project. It is a very important economic incentive for the communities to protect the forest sustainably.

The carbon accumulation will be investigated by exchanging the volume of wood by previous research model (Vien & Ton 2010). The project sites will be monitored and calculated the carbon accumulation using the previous model. The proceed is adapted to the international standard of carbon measurement. The data will be used to evaluate the growth of pine and impact of the project.

Demonstration sites:

Two Demonstration sites will be conducted in southern Vietnam. Those areas are near the famous tourist attraction located near Da Lat. One is the land near the nature forest in Da Nhim Watershed Protection Forest (2 has shown in Fig 1) and another one is the degraded forest of Tay Nguyen Institute of Scientific Research (1 hectare spare land out of 10 hectares degraded forest), Lam Dong Province (Fig.2 ,3), Vietnam. The forest of Tay Nguyen Institute of Scientific Research was damaged by forest fire in 2015 and in the recover stage.

Figure 1. Planting area in Đa Nhim Forest Enterprise

The land in in Da Nhim Watershed Protection Forest is more bared and could be destroyed by human activities. In both sites, the land is not bared and scatteredly cover by natural seedlings of P. kesiya. All seedlings of P. kesiya will be kept as natural.

Figure 2. degraded forest of Tay Nguyen Institute of Scientific Research shown in Google map

Figure 3. Planting area in Tay Nguyen Institute of Scientific Research

Project Partners:

  • Management Board of Da Nhim Watershed Protection Forest.
  • Tay Nguyen Institute of Scientific Research.
  • Institute of Mushroom and Biotechnology (the same of Institute of Fungal Research and Biotechnology)
  • Wild Tour Co. Ltd.

Principle Investigator: Dr. Hoang ND Pham