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Diversity of the Plantation Sector
Plantation ownership
Plantation Species
Plantation management practices
Harvesting of Plantations
Tree Improvement

The importance of the plantation sector in the Region is increasing as the demand for raw materials is rising and the supply from the natural forests is dwindling. The Region accounts for about 80 percent of the new plantations established in the tropics between 1981 and 1990 (Cossalter, 1993). During the same period, plantations grew in South Asia from 4.96 million to 19.76 million ha, in Continental South East Asia from 1.8 million to 3.2 million ha, and in Insular South East Asia from 4.34 million to 9.16 million ha. In the Pacific Islands, it more than doubled from 88,000 to 189,200 ha (FAO, 1995). China's plantation resources stand at about 32 million ha (Waggener and Lane, 1996), New Zealand's at 1.47 million ha (Brown, 1996), and Australia's at about 1.1 million ha (ABARE, 1996). Excluding Japan and the Korean Peninsula, the plantations cover an area of roughly 67 million ha.

The figures presented above should be viewed as a rough estimate at best. Pandey (1995) concludes that survival rates in many plantations are rather disappointing. His estimates for plants surviving are between 63 and 77 percent. This indicates that the total area might be 25 to 35 percent less. On the other hand the figures are outdated and it can be safely assumed that the plantation area has grown significantly since the assessment. Furthermore, many small plantations have not been included in the FAO survey such as 300,000 ha in Bangladesh. 90 percent of the fuelwood in Pakistan comes from farms (Hulscher, 1995) which are also excluded from the statistics.

The plantation area would receive another boost if crops such as rubber, oil palm and coconut were included. Rubber alone covers about 9 million ha in Asia, with 3.04 million ha in Indonesia, 1.83 million ha in Malaysia, and 1.78 million ha in Thailand (Hong, 1995). As the discussion in the chapter on wood processing will indicate, there is no reason to distinguish between forestry plantations and some estate crops. Furthermore, from an environmental point of view there is no difference between an intensively managed rubber plantation and an intensively managed eucalyptus, acacia or pine plantation. In fact, some of the small holdings offer considerable biodiversity and other non-timber forest products and services.

Diversity of the Plantation Sector

The plantation sector has been beset with difficulties (Ng, 1996) and continues to be a contentious and troubled area in relations between lowlands and uplands in some countries. Principal conflicts arise from struggles over resources, especially land, and labour relations. Particularly in Thailand, commercial eucalyptus plantations have been described as incompatible both with forest conservation and with village livelihood (Lohmann, 1990). Many villagers have protested against plantation schemes by destroying nurseries and forest equipment in the late 1980s and early 1990s (Anon, 1989, Puntasen et al., 1992). In Indonesia, plantation development has been criticized for replacing natural, albeit degraded, forests (WALHI, 1992). In both countries, plantation establishment has experienced setbacks because of social problems in the past; problems that appear to have decreased in recent years. The controversies regarding the choice of exotics such as eucalypts and acacias, however, ultimately did not lead to a shift towards the use of indigenous species. In Thailand, Eucalyptus camaldulensis is today the most popular species planted by both the private and public sector (Kijkar, 1995).

The objectives for establishing plantations among the countries of the Region are very diverse, and have changed over time. The objective of the first plantations was predominantly timber production, with initial efforts reaching back to the last century (e.g., Bryant, 1994). Most initiatives appear to have responded to a perceived crisis. Pine plantations in Peninsular Malaysia were created in the 1960s to support the pulp and paper industry. It was followed by a larger project based on Acacia mangium in the 1980s, to compensate for a decline in supply from natural forests (Ng, 1996). Plantations in other countries were established in order to rehabilitate degraded lands, to assist in rural development, and/or to increase fuelwood supplies. Tree planting programmes became major development tasks for governments in many countries in the Region, with much efforts dedicated to identifying and developing tree species for particular purposes. However, from the early 1980s onwards, the trend has gone slowly towards multi-purpose species, designed for soil improvement, provision of fuelwood and for the wood industry. In fact, many plantation projects had hidden agendas. To the rural population, it was not always obvious why "their lands" had to be used for a product (such as fuelwood) which, according to their perception, was freely available in the natural, forest. To a certain agree this confusion still persists today, though plantation management has become more sophisticated and purpose, i.e. product, oriented. This is particularly the case of the large scale private plantations which started to emerge in 1983/84 (AFTSC, 1996). Since then, private corporations in the Regions have made substantial investments in hardwood plantations to supply downstream processing industries, particularly the pulp and paper and reconstituted wood panel industries.

The plantation sector is diverse in terms of ownership, scale, species planted and production purpose. The diversity explains why it is difficult to present a coherent picture of what happened in the sector and what will most likely happen. As Kanowski (1995, p. 483) explains, "plantation forestry is an evolving concept but is most often interpreted as the relatively intensive management of monocultures for the production of a relatively narrow range of products".

Plantation ownership

Up until about 15 years ago, in most countries of the Region it was the state that initiated large-scale reforestation or afforestation programmes in order to build up new sources of raw material and to rehabilitate degraded areas. The success of these plantations was rather limited and many suffered from multiple problems including low quality planting stock, weak links to markets and social problems. Some plantation projects ultimately had to be terminated when external financial support came to an end (Cossalter, 1996). Since then, many technical lessons have been learned, and the establishment of industrial plantations has mushroomed (Bass, 1992).

Several other factors beside the technical advances explain the enormous growth of plantations and with it a shift from state to private management. In the former centrally planned economies, fundamental changes have taken place in rural areas with regard to land management systems. In China, for example, collective land management was replaced by a family contract system (Ruiz Pérez et al., 1996). This change has significantly facilitated reforestation in parts of China, more efficient resource management and the development of processing facilities (for wood and NTFPs). Similarly, the government in Vietnam gives 50 years renewable use rights over degraded areas to individual farmers in an attempt to stimulate private investment in reforestation (Van, 1996). While the transition to a market economy explains an increase in tree growing in countries such as Vietnam and China, in other parts of the Region it is industrial growth that has triggered a transformation of the rural areas. Off-farm employment opportunities become increasingly available which results in a decreasing pressure on the land locally. Labour shortages in parts of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have resulted in land left idle, a rise in land prices and a change in land use. Coupled with an attractive market-driven demand for wood, small-holder timber plantations and private tree growing have sprouted up in the Philippines (Garrity and Mercado, 1994), Nepal (Malla, 1992), Laos (Roder et al., 1995), India (Saxena, 1994; Ghosh, 1994), and Thailand.

The growing interest in small-holder wood production and farm forestry does not mean that the deforestation trend has been reversed on a broad front. In addition, in certain cases it has also resulted locally in overproduction of a particular product and farmers were unable to realize the anticipated profits. For example, supply of small sized eucalyptus timber outstripped demand in parts of India (Saxena, 1994). A positive side effect, however, was an increasing investment in wood-based industries that today provide for a competitive market (Sharma, 1995). Also, poplars, the leading species in north India for the wood panel and packaging industries did not suffer the same fate as eucalyptus, due to its multiple end uses. Further, its replacement values are so high that long distance overland transport is possible (Ghosh, 1994).

Private involvement does not suffer from many of the inherent problems of social forestry interventions described by Dove (1995). On the other hand, as recent studies from Laos (Roder et al., 1995) and India (Saxena, 1994) indicate, it is predominantly absentee landowners and large farmers, with the support of substantial non-crop incomes, who can take advantage of the demand for wood. The picture is not uniform because resource poor farmers also replace annuals with perennials in order to concentrate on improving their income through wage labour (Saxena, 1994). In some cases, close collaboration between the wood processing industry and small-scale suppliers has boosted reforestation.

The emergence of many small-scale land owners in the plantation sector is paralleled by massive corporate investments in wood production. Both players have reduced the role of the state in the sector. Plantation establishment is coupled particularly with the production facilities for pulp and paper in Indonesia (Gales, 1996, Wong, 1992). Faced by prospects of further diminishing supplies from the natural forests, the reconstituted wood panel industry has also opted for plantation management. This includes plantations of fast-growing tree species, and further involvement in producing rubber. The impact of private corporation involvement will be a significant increase in plantation area, the mechanization of silvicultural and harvesting operations and increased productivity due to the intensification of management and the use of improved planting stock.

Plantation Species

While there is a wide variety of species used in plantation management, the most common species are pines, acacias, eucalypts, teak (Pandey, 1995) and poplar. Tectona grandis has the longest history as a plantation species followed by pine. Pinus radiata is the main species used in Australia and New Zealand. Teak production for the sawnwood industry is on the upswing. It is currently strongly promoted in Malaysia for producing quality timber on a 15 year rotation (Anon, 1996d). Species with more country specific importance include Robinia pseudoacacia, Gmelina arborea, Melia azaderach, Casuarina equisetifolia, Calliandra spp., Paraserianthes falcataria, Dalbergia sissoo, Swietenia macrophylla and Leucaena leucocephala. More than 1 million ha are planted with P. elliottii, P. taeda and P. caribaea (Pan, 1991) and poplars cover more than 2.4 million ha in China (Wang, 1991).

Over the last two decades eucalypts and acacias (particularly A. mangium and A. auriculiformis) have made inroads into plantation establishment. Eucalypts have been very important in plantations in southern China with a total area of more than half a million ha (Hong, 1991). Eucalyptus camaldulensis has become the main plantation species next to teak in Thailand (Bhumibhamon, 1992) and is of major importance in India (Pandey, 1995). In Malaysia and Indonesia, industrial plantation development has focused on A. mangium (Haines, 1994). The advantages of eucalypts and acacias are that they grow very well on poor soils and, particularly, that high quality seeds are easily available. The scarcity of good quality seed has sometimes hampered advances of other species such as Pinus caribaea and Araucaria in Malaysia (Ahmad and Ang, 1993).

The majority of industrial plantations relies on exotic species as they are more attractive from a profitability perspective, with a broad knowledge base. Most existing plantations can be described as simple, in terms of purpose, composition, structure and management (Kanowski, 1995). There has been a recent swing of interest to indigenous species, such as in China (Hong, 1991). However, to what extent this interest has translated into significant changes in area is currently unknown. While Kanowski (1995) forecasts that most plantations will become more complex, the near future will be dominated by more simplicity than complexity.

Plantation management practices

The silvicultural interventions necessary in plantations depend foremost on the main production objective (e.g., conservation, fuelwood, fibre, or sawlog production). Where wood production is the main objective, intensive silvicultural treatments are probably justified (Whitmore, 1994). For the production of high quality sawlogs they are definitely necessary, as examples from northern softwood plantations indicate. Management practices are so diverse that no clear picture emerges. Therefore, the brief description that follows relies heavily on information for only one species, i.e. A. mangium.

In Malaysia, potted seedlings in polyethylene bags are used, as the bags are relatively cheap, not bulky and have no adverse effects on the seedlings (Thang, 1994). The same technology is also used in Indonesia (Gales, 1996). Where road conditions are adequate for transport during the wet season, centralized nurseries are used. Where infrastructure is poor, seedlings are raised in simple nurseries. As Kanowski and Savill (1992) remarked many early plantation failures are attributable to poor nursery techniques. Generally, it appears that nursery practices have improved immensely (Fryer, pers. comm., 1996), though poor nursery practices have limited the success of reforestation efforts in Vietnam (Poynton, 1996). The impact of improved nursery technologies is, however, not know in quantitative terms as most plantations are still very young. It has emerged, however, that survival rates are substantially higher.

Three types of site preparation are in use. Where land is covered by grasses or light brush, it is mechanically cleared by bulldozers in flat or slightly undulating terrain. Manual clearing takes place in steeper terrain and where the clearing of residual secondary vegetation is required. The slashed vegetation is usually burned though burning as part of site preparation has been illegal since 1995 in Indonesia (Gales, 1996). Chemical treatments are involved in areas affected by Imperata cylindrica. Most site preparation are designed to disturb topsoil minimally, which is quite different from site preparation for estate crops.

Planting begins with the onset of the rainy season and may be accompanied by fertilizer applications, particularly if inexpensive fertilizer is available. The usual practice (for A. mangium) is to plant nursery-grown seedlings (Srivastava, 1993). Stand tending includes weeding, cleaning and thinning as well as pruning. Disc harrow weeding between planting rows followed by hand weeding as well as herbicide applications are common (Wong, 1992). The importance of weeding has not been fully realized, with operators following different schedules and techniques (Srivastava, 1993). Thinning and pruning are necessary for the production of sawlogs but not for fibre production (Lee and Mohammad, 1992).

Single species plantations have suffered heavy losses due to fires, the major cause of extensive damages (Srivastava, 1993). In Sabah alone, at least 6,000 ha of forest plantations were affected by fires during the 1980s (Lee and Mohammad, 1992). In Sumatra, on the other hand, fire danger is usually low and losses to fire are within an acceptable range (Wong, 1992). To protect against fires, large plantation projects have prepared guidelines and equipment, constructed fire breaks (the reason why A. mangium was originally introduced to Sabah), fire access roads and watch towers, and established good relationships with local communities (Gales, 1996).

The reduction in species diversity, tree age and genetic variation provides favourable conditions for the spread of insect pests and diseases (Hutacharern, 1993) and increase the risk for substantial damage (Gales, 1996). For example, in 1984 a leaf fungus disease wiped out plantations of Eucalyptus camaldulensis in Malaysia (Ng, 1996), and large areas have also been damaged by disease and insect attacks in Vietnam (Poynton, 1996). For A. mangium, damage caused by pests has not been serious to date (Lee and Mohammad, 1992; CIFOR, undated), and there are no reports of any serious disease outbreak (Lee, 1993), though the incidence of heartrot has resulted in a drastic, temporary slowdown of plantation establishment in Peninsular Malaysia. Pesticide applications are rare and strategies in controlling pests are moving towards Integrated Pest Management (IPM) (Gales, 1996). However, the most common option for pest and disease management remains sanitation or the withdrawal of certain species from planting programmes (Day et al., 1994), which indicates that insect and disease management are still in its infancy.

While limited to almost exclusively one species and industrial plantations, the brief introduction to current management practices provides a couple of interesting insights. First, until recently plantation management did not change dramatically. Some technologies of plantation management in the temperate region have been adopted and this development is rapidly increasing with private sector involvement. Silvicultural treatments are of limited significance when wood is produced for its fibres. Second, there have not been any major problems with pests and diseases. However, as the example of heartrot disease in A. mangium shows, any outbreak can lead to the immediate moratorium on the use of individual species. This highlights, as Srivastava (1993) stressed that serious gaps on many aspects of A. mangium remain and need more research. If this is the case for A. mangium, then it certainly is also true for other species of which far less is known.

Harvesting of Plantations

A wide variety of harvesting systems exists for the plantations in the region. While there is very little documentation available, harvesting techniques range from essentially manual to completely mechanized (Kanowski and Savill, 1992). They are slowly evolving from the use of animals and simple, often second hand, machinery to complex and integrated systems. Most machinery has been adapted either from the estate natural forest management sectors. A very simple systems is described by Derus and Hameed (1994) in which rubber trees are pushed over by crawler tractors, subsequently crosscut by chainsaw and then loaded onto small trucks by a modified backhoe tractor.

Harvesting of plantations started 1981 in Sabah, using tractors and a skyline based systems (Lee and Mohammad, 1992). Most systems in use are still adapted in response to high labour costs, the need to keep soil disturbance at a minimum, expected infrastructural improvements and frequently poor weather conditions.

Carle (1996) predicted substantial changes to more mechanized systems with tree felling and bunching performed by light feller bunchers and log extraction by light rubber-tired skidders and forwarders. This equipment is used in temperate plantations and can be expected to have a significant impact on the industrial plantation sector within the Region too. The first companies in Malaysia and Indonesia have fully mechanized operations. In at least one place, this even includes a mobile wood chipper which allows for a substantial reduction in waste left behind. On the other hand, where labour costs remain low handsaw and animal-based systems will remain competitive, such as in the southern Philippines (Jurvélius, 1997). In India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand, elephants will remain attractive, particular when their operations can be combined with machines (FAO, 1995).

Tree Improvement

Poor quality planting stock material was a major constraint to performance of earlier plantations (Bass, 1992). The consequences of choosing sub-optimal or outright wrong materials as well as species span from poor performance, reduced plantation health, and even disasters (Ng, 1996). Next to taking into account the political economy (Kanowski and Savill, 1992) and social factors (Smits, 1996) as the determinants of the nature and success of plantations, it is now widely understood that the production of high quality planting stock of improved trees has a tremendous impact on growth and yield, and ultimately profitability.

Significant advances in species selection, tree breeding research and programmes have been made in almost all countries. However, in most plantations the use of sexually propagated seedlings is still common. The plantation areas that have benefited from research in tissue culture and rooted cuttings are still small. There are some notable exceptions. The forest industry in New Zealand extensively utilizes genetically improved Pinus radiata and since 1985 improved stock has been used in virtually all plantings (Carson and Carson, 1995). Significant productivity increases have also been reported for state-owned plantations of the same species in Australia (Ferguson, 1995). In China, tissue cultured hybrid trees and cuttings are used commercially (Turnbull, pers. comm., 1996). In Thailand, demand for planting stock of high genetic quality increased dramatically in 1994, when the world price for pulp and paper doubled (Kijkar, 1995). In some countries, private companies are offering improved planting stock, predominantly asexually propagated clonal material. In India, for example, ITC Bhadrachalam Paperboards Ltd. sells eucalypt clones that have demonstrated superior growth rates, disease resistance and stem qualities to tree growers (Lal, 1995). Other private companies also provide improved planting material though the impact of such enterprises is rather mixed with some companies taking advantages of inexperienced tree growers. Tree seeds are widely traded and, although information and controls concerning their origin and genetic quality have improved, uncertainties remain in many cases (Kanowski and Savill, 1992).

Breeding programmes and the establishment of tree seed centres have raised the awareness of the importance of quality planting stock but translation into actual practice is low due to limited availability of planting stock and weak extension services (AFTSC, 1996). Self-critically the AFTSC also notes that it needed to be more responsive to the current needs and realities (AFTSC, 1994), which partially explains the limited impact of this and other research projects.

In his review on tree improvement, Haines (1994) concludes that most plantings are still conducted with material subjected to little, if any, improvement. Awang and Bhumibhamon (1993) also report that gains achieved in agriculture and horticulture from using improved seeds have not been obtained by forestry in most counties of the Asia-Pacific Region. In Vietnam, for example, the use of poor quality seeds and seedlings is a major constraint to reforestation efforts (Poynton, 1996). Kishwan (1995) also laments the dearth of good quality material throughout India. Also, most improvement programmes have focused on a limited number of species with sophisticated breeding programmes unlikely to be warranted for most non-industrial species. Hence, for many multi-purpose species that farmers plant on a variety of sites and for diverse reasons, there is no improved stock available, though increasing resources are being allocated to provide better-performing germplasm to farmers (Simons, 1996).

Generally, tree improvement aims at producing trees with better features at each new generation, including

· higher resistance to pests, diseases, droughts, frost and even herbicides, to reduce mortality and for more efficient silvicultural treatment;

· quality enhancement and product uniformity to reduce costs in harvesting, transport and wood processing; and

· productivity, to improve growth and yield.

To what extent these objectives have been reached in the field is difficult to judge. The breeding for certain traits is still in its infancies. The main development direction is heading at the moment towards the production of clonal planting stock with improved growth and yield characteristics.

It is often not clear whether improvements are related to more sophisticated silvicultural practices or due to superior planting stock. For example, in New Zealand, the mean annual increment for a 35 year rotation for Pinus radiata in state-owned plantations rose from 18m3/ha to 26m3/ha over the 1960 to 1984 period. Ferguson (1995) concludes that the shift in productivity owed "its origins to continuing research in silviculture and genetics, especially in tree breeding and establishment techniques" (p. 467). The effect of either changes in silvicultural techniques or planting stock cannot be assessed from those data. Lal (1995) on the other hand pointed out that the productivity of some selected eucalypt clones is 20-25 m3/ha/yr under rainfed conditions compared to only 5-6 m3/ha/yr in plantations raised from ordinary seed sources at 7 years rotation. This represents a four-fold increase, indicates the potential of using selected species and clones, and explains the tree growers' interest in seedlings that are over ten times more expensive than seedlings of unimproved seeds. In Vietnam, farmers abandoned the local source of Eucalyptus camaldulensis when the five-fold more productive provenance Petford of the same species became available. This shift occurred in only a short period of time even though Petford seedlings were three times more expensive (Cossalter, 1996), another indication of tree growers' interest in superior planting stock. Hybrids, such as the one of A. mangium and A. auriculiformis, sometimes grow faster than either of their parents, have better stem forms, higher wood density and may be more disease resistant (Gales, 1996). On the other hand, major setbacks such as the clone-specific calamities of poplars have also been experienced (Haines, 1994). In general, spectacular gains due to tree improvement are not common, yet Productivity increases of 15 to 20 percent should be considered as normal (Cossalter, 1996). Even those increases can usually only be achieved if stand management is intensified at the same time.

Biotechnology in tree improvement is still in its infancy. As Griffin (1996) summarizes, there is still much to learn about the expression of transferred genes over the life of a tree crop, the costs of enabling technology and genelicences are high, and the process of satisfying government regulators and the public that the technology presents no substantial environmental risks has hardly been initiated.

The main impetus in tree breeding and the production of superior planting stock will come in the near future from the commercial sector whose role in the plantation sector has progressed considerably over the last decade. As Schmidheiny (1992, cited in Bass, 1992) points out, corporations can provide the stability and resources required for tropical plantation investment more sustainably than governments. Most corporations are directly linked to the downstream processing sector which requires a continuous flow of high quality and uniform raw materials. Public research in tree improvement in most countries of the region is greatly under-resourced (Haines, 1994) because it is not a high priority of the state. For private plantation corporations it is of high priority, and they will increasingly invest in optimizing their plantation activities, including efforts in tree improvement. Most of the work will be limited to few species. As a result it is rather unlikely that in the near future plantations, particularly large-scale plantations - in the Region will become more complex.


As the discussion indicates, the plantation sector in the Region has experienced substantial growth in the last 15 years. The expansion of industrial wood processing capacities together with dwindling supplies from the natural forests point towards further growth. The speed of this expansion will depend on the nature of state interventions, price stability for wood products, collaboration between small-scale producers and the processing industry, and the impact of research on planting stock quality, plantation establishment and management, and the processing of raw materials.

As described by Saxena (1994), tree growing by small-holders has flourished despite state interventions and competition with subsidized supplies of wood from government sources. Not withstanding those constraints, there is growing evidence from India to suggest that planting of trees for commercial ends has increased since the early 1980s. Similar situations have emerged in other countries though they are far from homogeneous. The transition to market economies in some of the Region's countries has also triggered interest in plantations and the growth of downstream processing industries. In other countries corporate players are increasing the areas under fast-growing trees while governments continue to announce ever increasing targets for further plantation development.

Sayer and Byron (1996, p. 4) predicted that "it seems almost certain that the share of the world's wood production that comes from plantations will increase and that a large part of this increase will occur in the tropics." For this to happen means that the plantation area and productivity have to increase substantially. The questions that remain to be answered concern the limits to the growth of both.

Economic growth and agrarian change are pointing towards a decreasing competition between forestry and agriculture. The rural areas of the fastest growing economies are facing labour shortages with subsequent impacts on agricultural production. This explains partially the interest in extensification and tree growing by small-holders. At the same time agricultural production intensifies on a smaller share of the total land area, as food demands by a growing population increases. Vast areas of degraded lands are also available for reforestation though, for obvious reasons, most private investors shun those risky locations. Confrontations between rural communities and corporations involved in plantation establishment appear to have decreased. While conclusive evidence is not available, it seems that land use conflicts will not hinder a further expansion of the plantation sector.

The second major aspect discussed by Sayer and Byron (1996, p. 5) is "the serious, and still unresolved, issues of sustainability of second and subsequent rotations in low potential areas in the humid tropics and the associated problems of pathogens". Tree breeding programmes, species site matching, more sophisticated silvicultural treatments as well as fire protection, less soil damaging harvesting techniques and increased inputs can ensure that losses can be maintained at a minimal level. Ng's (1996) review of more than 25 years of forestry research in Malaysia showed that not all is well, and there will always be setbacks particularly in what Kanowski (1995) called simple plantation forests. The seriousness of such setbacks will determine the progress towards more complexity.

Changes will also depend on the real and perceived environmental and social impact of plantations, export capacities of other regions (e.g., US hardwood lumber exports to Asia have more than doubled in the last ten years) and consumer demands. The increased use of rubber cannot only be explained by the availability of an inexpensive resource and research success in processing rubber wood but also by the demand for light coloured wood and the perceived environmental soundness of using rubber as a raw material instead of wood from natural forests.

One advantage of plantations is the uniformity of their outputs. Weinland and Yahya (1994) have proposed to maintain naturally regenerating hardwood in plantations of A. mangium. This would be a first step towards more complexity and will more acceptable once wood processing is capable of different specifications and qualities. This will also determine the use of dipterocarps in plantations. As Smits (1996) reported a number of dipterocarps have an extremely favourable average growth of more than 2 cm diameter increment per year. Once the anatomy of indigenous species is better understood and becomes more acceptable to the processing industry (an industry already experimenting with oil palm for panel production), it is likely that logged-over degraded forests will not have to automatically make way for single species plantations. The management of secondary forests is receiving more attention in the American tropics (CIFOR, undated) and they are managed intensively by small-holders in countries such as Costa Rica. The provision of appropriate incentives may stimulate more interest in secondary forest management or restorative management of severely logged-over forests within this Region too. This development will not only be beneficial from an environmental perspective but may also be coupled with the intensive management of NTFPs such as rattan.


In their recent report Waggener and Lane (1996) conclude that forests are increasingly seen as promoting many national and international objectives, including soil conservation, protection of habitats, watershed maintenance, and related conservation and environmental purposes. They view the establishment of forest plantations more frequently related to these environmental objectives than to strict product or utilitarian objectives. This report concludes that the driving force for plantation establishment by farmers, small-holders and corporate players is instead of a commercial nature. The dwindling supply of raw material from natural forests, rising consumer demands, as well as increasing capacities in the wood processing sector are predominantly responsible for the current growth of the plantation sector. Other factors are the industrialization of the Region's economies, agrarian changes and a market orientation in former centrally planned economies.

Currently plantation forestry in the Region can be described as the intensive management of monocultures for the production of a relatively narrow range of products and species. Main species are and will, in the foreseeable future, be pines, teak, poplars, acacias and eucalypts. Major losses due to pests and diseases as well as fires have not been reported but there have been a number of setbacks. The sector was originally dominated by state involvement. This has changed over the last fifteen years.

With the adoption and adaptation of practices used by producers in the temperate regions, the plantation sector will become modernized and more mechanized. High quality planting material and soil conserving site preparation will increase growth and yields which have hitherto been rather disappointing (see e.g., Pandey, 1995). While single species plantation management will intensify there are opportunities for a slow shift from simple to more complex systems. In order to capitalize on these opportunities more research should be geared towards the management of degraded or secondary forests. Furthermore, state intervention and government support needs to provide the appropriate incentives to motivate investors to consider alternative options to monocultural plantations, particularly in those areas where they replace logged-over forests.

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