Creating new forests or re-creating and maintaining existing forests is engaging the attention of more and more countries. Governments, private organizations and individuals are happily increasing their budgets for tree planting, selecting new nursery sites, expanding present nurseries, and deciding on new plantation areas. Sometimes this planning and preparation concerns itself merely with the planting of trees - any kind, any seed, any place. This is certainly not to be discouraged - as it may represent a tremendous stride forward away from former apathy towards afforestation or reforestation. But increasingly, foresters are looking further ahead - after looking back over their shoulders at their own past experiences and those of their neighbors - as to what exactly they hope to accomplish by tree planting.
Once the planter knows where he is going, he frequently needs help as to which species will best meet his purpose. That is, which species will yield the kind and quantity of product desired on the planting sites he has available? Where can he get the seed he needs; how can he be sure that such seed will be of superior parent-stock of the correct geographic strain, or from the right height zone; and that the seed has the degree of purity and germinative capacity he requires? How should it be stored after he receives it; what treatments should he use on the seed to get the maximum germination? What are the latest developments in nursery practices, such as soil conditioning, chemical weed control, root formation stimulation, lifting and packing the seedlings and transplants. And how about the mechanization of operations both in the nursery and in planting? Will they be suitable under his field conditions? And more than anything else, what precautions are necessary to prevent the spread of disease or insect outbreaks in any planting scheme?
Many countries have had considerable experience in finding answers to these and related questions. FAO is now trying to bring together the results of this experience in seed handling, nursery operations, and planting methods. Forest administrations and heads of forest experiment stations are being asked to cooperate by providing lists of species whose seed they collect for reforestation, and lists of private seed dealers and the species which they handle, and to participate in exchange of small lots of seeds for experimental trials, and to issue an acceptable certificate of origin and quality for each seed lot collected and shipped. In return, FAO will try to serve as a clearing house to help the co-operating agencies obtain the experimental quantities of seed they themselves need. This pooling of effort and experience is bound to add up to more than the sum of its individual parts.
On such a foundation, new forests could be created in confidence - new forests that would yield timber and fuelwood and pulpwood whereby new villages of people could find prosperity; where re-created old forests would protect soils from blowing and washing away so that old villages could find new and more abundant lives.
Surely this objective of FAO and its member governments more than justifies the extra work which will be required of the foresters of the world.
Cover Photograph: A view from the porch of a house in one of the new Forest Villages discussed in H. L. Edlin's article in this issue.
Above is that of Abertridwr, rear the forest at Lake Vyrnwy in North Wales. The buildings on the right are the school and the village hall.
Below, closely grouped in a deep valley, is the village of Braeval in Scotland; plantations of larch, Scots pine and spruce in the background are part of the Loch Ard National Park.
Two typical forest villages, built under the plan discussed in these pages, are seen here.