Resource Details

Sustaining Tropical Forest Resources: Reforestation of Degraded Lands

Literature: Available at NO COST Manuals, Guides, Reports

U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 1983 "Sustaining Tropical Forest Resources: Reforestation of Degraded Lands," Background Paper #1, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC


U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) - the Congressional OTA closed in 1995, archives of their publications can be found at


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  • This government report provides background material on tropical reforestation and discusses techniques to reforest degraded tropical lands.
  • They provide a discussion of important considerations before deciding what species to plant including: native v. exotic species, monoculture v. polyculture, single purpose v. multipurpose trees, and genetic improvement and plant breeding.
  • With respect to the use of native versus exotic species, the authors express that industrial plantations are almost exclusively (at the time of this publication) composed of exotic species and suggest that the use of native species is largely ignored
  • The do, however, provide a list of benefits of native species including: "native species are adapted to the local environment and thus may be less susceptible to stress, serious disease, and pest damage; local people are more familiar with their native plants and have more uses for them, similarly, the timber of native species is likely to be known to local wood-using industries; further, use of native trees contributes to the conservation of native flora and fauna."
  • Techniques are described for selecting and preparing planting stock, preparing the land before planting, tree planting or direct seeding, protection and maintenance of trees after planting,
  • For unique environmental conditions, such as arid lands, unproductive grasslands, mine spoils, and saline and alkaline lands, the authors provide additional techniques and considerations.
  • Technological constraints identified include: shortage of planting stock; inadequate attention to collecting, testing, and distributing high quality seeds and clones; lack of information and research; and lack of trained staff.
  • Technological opportunities identified include: "developing international systems for seed source identification, collection, production, and distribution; supporting programs on tree improvement, propagation of Rhizobia and mycorrhizae, mixed species plantations, and other related subjects; supporting efforts to disseminate research information globally, regionally, and in-country; including research and dissemination of information as components of reforestation programs; and creating incentives for developing country people to enter forestry, such as changing the reward systems in forestry institutions."

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    ELTI is a joint initiative of:
    Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute