Planted Forests on the Globe: Renewable Resources for the Future

Demand toward forest sector is expected to increase in the next decades not only for traditional sector but also for bio-energy, biochemical and by-products. Lessening the pressure for wood production, tree planting has released natural forests to be managed for other purposes -carbon sinks, soil and water protection, conservation of biological diversity, recreation and amenity. Representing a complement, but not an alternative, to natural forests, planted forests have become increasingly important for reducing worldwide deforestation, loss of forest ecosystems and forest degradation (FAO, 2009).

Planted forests are composed of trees established through planting and/or through deliberate seeding of native or introduced species. Establishment is either through afforestation on land that until then was not classified as forest, or by reforestation of land classified as forest, for instance after a fire or a storm or following clear felling (FAO 2010).

Planted forests yield a diverse range of wood, fibre, fuel and non-wood forest products for corporate and smallholder investors pursuing commercial or subsistence purposes. They can also provide a number of social and environmental services, ranging from rehabilitation of degraded lands, combating desertification, soil and water protection, sequestering and storing carbon, recreation and landscape amenity. Planted forests conserve genetic resources and provide shelter, shade and fodder for livestock . They deliver valuable services to urban populations, particularly in arid zones, by mitigating sand-storms, preventing sand-drift and recycling waste water. Responsible management of planted forests can reduce pressures on indigenous forests for forest products and allow them to be designated for other protective and conservation purposes. They can also complement and supplement the REDD and REDD + initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. As such, planted forests have multiple values, many of which cannot be provided by other types of land use.

Planted forests are long-term investments that require awareness and diligence in policy and planning, but particularly in management practices in order to avoid negative impacts. This relates to the selection of germplasm, nursery production, site preparation, establishment, tending, weeding, silviculture, protection and harvesting interventions. Unfortunately, planted forests have not always lived up to their potential. The causes for failures of planted forests in the past include inappropriate governance frameworks and insufficient application of established knowledge, technology and techniques. The lack of capacity and capability in providing enabling policies, laws, regulations, plans and technical support systems have lead to controversy and poor management of planted forests. Some planted forest investments have produced land-use, social, cultural and environmental conflicts, as well as unsustainable management practices.

Two international conferences on planted forests have been held previously, in Chile in 1999 ( and New Zealand in 2003 ( . Both of these conferences highlighted the need to promote the multiple dimensions of Sustainable Forest management (SFM) in view of the social and environmental challenges of the 21 st century. Since then, new research, global assessments of planted forest resources and outlook studies for wood from planted forests, best practice guidelines and many interesting cases of country applications from around the world have documented and further emphasized the global significance of planted forests. In parallel, international processes and financing mechanisms have increasingly recognized the central role of planted forests for mitigating climate changes, conserving biodiversity and combating land degradation. In contrast to these positive developments, negative social and environmental impacts of planted forests have given rise to concern.

It is therefore timely to investigate the contribution of planted forests to sustainable development in the context of global changes and to organize a Third International Congress on Planted Forests. Central topics would include the sustainability of planted forests in the context of changing climates and the future role of planted forests in envi ronmental protection and REDD+. The aim is to address issues surrounding planted forests today, their productive, environmental and social functions and the challenges they present. The target audience includes forest scientists, policy makers, the private forestry sector and forest managers.

Registration will open in November

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