A national approach to leverage the benefits of tree planting on public lands
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The number of global initiatives for forest restoration, and the scope of these initiatives, continues to increase. An important tool for meeting objectives of these global initiatives is reforestation, achieved by natural processes or by tree planting. Worldwide, organizations are challenged to most efficiently and effectively direct resources to the most critical reforestation needs. Currently in the United States, the reforestation efforts of the Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, are challenged by changes in policy, funding, climate change, and mega-fires, to name a few, and identifying strategies for timely successful reforestation at scale is needed. A 2016 conference brought together reforestation experts from across North America to discuss potential benefits of reforestation activities in the face of mounting challenges from invasive species, wildfires, diseases, and climate change. As a result of that effort, here we provide background on the challenges confronting successful reforestation on lands managed by the Forest Service, and describe the six manuscripts in this special issue and their foci: barriers to natural regeneration, when to actively plant trees or not to ensure a heterogeneous landscape, ecological and economic concerns when reforestation is delayed, employing traditional and novel silvicultural techniques in support of reforestation, leveraging reforestation to improve resilience of species affected by introduced pests, and the potential carbon sequestration benefits of a robust reforestation program.
KeywordsNatural regeneration Tree planting Wildfire Climate change Diversity
We thank the attendees and presenters that participated in the Reforestation Matters conference, the authors that contributed to this Special Issue, and the reviewers and editors of the articles within this Special Issue. We also thank Deborah M. Finch, James M. Guldin, Diane L. Haase, and Jonathan W. Long for their insightful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript.
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