Propagation of forest reproductive material creates the link to future generations of trees and forests. It is the process whereby new plants are produced from the material. The majority of propagation techniques start with seed, but vegetative material is often used. Suitable methods need to be adopted so that best use is made of the material, and previous efforts of selection, collection and handling of reproductive material are not wasted. For reforestation programs, propagation by seed will be done typically in nurseries. In the case of management of natural forests, regeneration will be promoted via natural seed fall under field conditions, possibly aided by direct seeding or enrichment planting. There are also newer specialised techniques.
We provide an overview of the key issues and sources of information under the following three topics (1) an overview of the techniques of artificial propagation in nurseries dedicated to raising the plants; (2) propagation of material (usually seed) by natural regeneration (sometimes helped by artificial techniques) in the field and (3) the use of specialised techniques such as grafting.
See the previous topic CHOOSING THE RIGHT TYPE OF MATERIAL for a table that summarises methods of propagation.
By far the commonest method of propagating new plants is by seed in nurseries. The seed is germinated to provide seedlings and young plants which are then planted out in the field. A wealth of information on techniques have been developed for many species.
Examples of factors that will need to be taken into consideration when establishing and operating nurseries are:
Trees can also be propagated in the nursery by vegetative reproduction (e.g. cuttings), and similar issues will need to be considered for this type of material. To ensure adequate rooting of cuttings, some form of rooting hormone may be required.
See SELECTED REFERENCES - PROPAGATION. Many of these texts also include information on seed collection and handling.