Comparing Implementation Methods for Successful Forest Restorations: A Review of the Literature

Annabelle Arnold

University of Maryland

Co-Authors: P. May

Forests produce human necessities including clean air, food and medicine, wood products and fuel, and newly realized ecosystem services like carbon sequestration. Yet, forest cover has declined worldwide in recent decades and continues to decline at a slowing but continuous rate (Food and Agriculture Organization 2020). Forest restoration is an increasingly common means to re-establish forests, but efforts are frequently unsuccessful or lack sensitivity to significant factors such as socio-economic interactions (Le et al. 2015). Recent studies demonstrate the need for a holistic approach to reforestation (Burnett et al. 2019) and suggest that strategies for successful restoration act synergistically or antagonistically (Le et al. 2015). This review identifies six predominant methodologies employed in forest restoration efforts including species selection, seedling and sapling establishment, topographical placement, soil characteristics, mycorrhizal consideration, and competition elimination. Species selection, soil characteristics, and competition elimination were found to be utilized the most frequently among the focal papers of this review, while strategizing around soil characteristics had the highest rate of success. Consideration of the non-additive effects of restoration techniques are critical alongside an understanding of land use history of a site and its implications. Forest restoration methods cannot be studied or implemented individually and must be treated as the complex elements they are. Progressing reforestations from monoculture and mixed-species plantations to hybridized restorations that mimic existing ecosystem structure and function will result in higher survival rates and subsequently increased socio-economic interactivity.

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2 thoughts on “Comparing Implementation Methods for Successful Forest Restorations: A Review of the Literature

  1. Great work Annabelle! Could you please give me examples of antagonistic and synergistic restoration techniques – I am looking to understand more about how ecological engineering principles might come into play for successful forest restoration.


  2. Thank you for presenting the results of your reforestation literature review! It’s great that you were able to adapt your capstone to the pandemic!
    Would you mind providing an example of the difference between active and passive restoration techniques?
    Thank you for your time and I’m happy that you were able to present this project!


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