CORVALLIS - In Senegal, they provide fuelwood and forage for cattle. In Nepal, they're cultivated to protect watersheds. In Scotland and Denmark, they restore trees to a landscape that has been treeless for hundreds of years.
Planted forests - grown from tree seedlings planted on once-forested or unforested landscapes - actively contribute to the world's biological, economic, and social sustainability, according to a new book describing the role of planted forests worldwide.
"Planted Forests: Contributions to the Quest for Sustainable Societies," published by Kluwer Academic Publisher, is a comprehensive look at the biology and management of afforested and reforested landscapes.
Planted forests often don't get the respect they deserve, says co-editor Jim Boyle, a professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University and an expert in forest soils. "Sometimes you hear quibbling over whether a given area of planted trees is really a forest," Boyle said. "However you resolve the semantics, planted forests are a significant and necessary presence on the landscape worldwide, both as a source of wood fiber and as a land conservation strategy."
As the demand for wood increases with developing economies and expanding populations, Boyle suggests "we simply cannot meet the world's demands for solid wood, wood pulp, fuelwood, and other forest values from naturally growing native forests alone. We're dependent on planted forests."
These forests, says co-editor Kathleen Kavanagh, range widely in complexity, from monocultures to diverse ecosystems.
"We acknowledge that they will never replace native forests," said Kavanagh, who, until recently, was a professor of forestry at OSU. She is now on the faculty at the University of Idaho. But their potential to complement natural woodlands lends optimism for future forest management, she said.
"Planted Forests" had its beginnings in a 1995 international meeting held in Portland. Its 31 chapters deal with planted forests in temperate and tropical regions and developed and developing nations.
Eight OSU professors contributed to the writing, and three of the four editors are OSU forestry professors.
The book, which costs $225, may be ordered from the OSU bookstore, or from Kluwer Academic Publishers, Box 358 Accord Station, Hingham, Mass. 02018; telephone 781-871-6600.