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Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) Toolbox

Silviculture and Management of Planted Forests

Welcome to the Silviculture and Management of Planted Forests Module, which is targeted at stakeholders involved in the management of planted forests. The module provides specific information on good practices for the establishment and management of planted forests, from site selection and seed collection through to the planting of sites and their subsequent management.

The module also provides links to planted forest tools and case studies of effective management of planted forests.

Silviculture and management of planted forests contributes to SDGs:

Planted forests are established by planting and/or deliberate seeding native or introduced species, either on land previously not classified as forest (afforestation, implies a transformation of land-use from non-forest to forest), or on previously forested land (reforestation). Planted forests are established for many reasons, such as conservation, production and amenity. Planted forests can provide a wide range of environmental services, many of which cannot be provided by other types of land use. Planted forests can supply wood and non-wood forest products while also helping to restore and rehabilitate fragile ecosystems. They can help combat desertification, reduce erosion and absorb sewage water. They can help protect and improve soil and water resources, including when integrated with agriculture (see Agroforestry). Fast-growing planted forests can be an efficient way to produce woodfuel, either as a byproduct from forests planted for other purposes (e.g. lumber production) or in dedicated bioenergy plantations.

Planted forests can be effective in sequestering carbon and therefore in mitigating climate change. Globally, planted forests were estimated to have sequestered 1.5 gigatonnes (1.5 x 109 tonnes) of carbon in 2010, which was about 3.1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions in that year. The volume of carbon sequestered by planted forests is expected to increase as the area of such forests continues to expand. The responsible management of planted forests can also reduce the need to harvest natural forests for wood and other products, enabling more such forests to be designated for protective and conservation purposes, with additional benefits for climate-change mitigation and the provision of other environmental services.

The potential and actual role of planted forests in addressing socioeconomic and environmental challenges such as poverty, food and energy insecurity, climate change and biodiversity loss is widely acknowledged. But the provision of such services is not an inevitable consequence of planting trees, and poorly designed and managed planted forests can result in a loss of biodiversity and soil and water quality and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and can also cause major social disruptions, including by alienating people from their traditional lands. To avoid such problems, the establishment of planted forests requires good planning and the use of participatory multistakeholder processes.

Observing gender aspects in planted forest management can be key to achieving the set goals and objectives, especially when planted forests are established for the rehabilitation of degraded lands, to combat desertification and for landscape restoration. The multipurpose role of planted forests also helps increase the resilience of women and men against natural disasters and diseases and is fundamental to ensure a sustainable supply of wood for housing, household items, fodder and shadow for cattle, fuel and non-wood forest products including traditional medicines. The roles played by women in seed collection and nursery practices can be a valuable resource to be taken into consideration in the establishment of planted forests.

When establishing productive plantations, special attention must be given to the environmentally sound species’ choice (see also paragraph under “In more depth”), in order to reduce and manage the risk of competition for water with other land uses, which always affects women in their role of securing food and water for their families.