Afforestation is the process of establishing a forest on land that is not a forest, or has not been a forest for a long time by planting trees or their seeds. The term may also be applied to the legal conversion of land into the status of
reforestationgenerally refers to the reestablishment of the forest after its removal,or planting more trees for example from a timber harvest. Since the industrial revolutionmany countries have experienced centuries of deforestation, and some governments and non-governmental organisations directly engage in programs of "afforestation" to restore forests and assist in preservation of biodiversity.
United Statesand northwestern Europehave more forest cover than at the beginning of the twentieth century. [G.W. Heil, 2007] However, significant deforestation in South and Central America and in South Asia still continues.
Afforestation in areas of degraded soil
arid, tropical, or sensitive areas, forests cannot re-establish themselves without assistance due to a variety of environmental factors. One of these factors is that, once forest cover is destroyed in arid zones, the land quickly dries out and becomes inhospitable to new tree growth. Other critical factors include overgrazingby livestock, especially animals such as goats, and over-harvesting of forest resources. Together these may lead to desertificationand the loss of topsoil; without soil, forests cannot grow until the very long process of soil creation has been completed - if erosionallows this. In some tropical areas, the removal of forest cover may result in a duricrustor duripanthat effectively seal off the soil to water penetration and root growth. In many areas, reforestation is impossible above all because the land is in use by people. In these areas, reforestation requires the planting of tree seedlings, treeplanting. In other areas, mechanical breaking up of duripans or duricrusts is necessary, careful and continued watering may be essential, and special protection, such as fencing, may be required.
Because of the extensive
Amazondeforestation during the last several decades and ongoing,E.O. Wilson, 2002] the small efforts of afforestation are insignificant on a national scale of the Amazon Rainforest. [A.Cattaneo, 2002]
China has deforested the majority of its historical wooded areas. Although it has set official goals for re-forestation, these goals were set for a 80 year time horizon and are not significantly met by 2008. China has reached the point where timber yields have declined far below historic levels, due to overharvesting of trees beyond
sustainableyield. [G.A.McBeath, 2006] At present however, China is trying to erase its sins of the past by projects as the Green Wall of China, which aims to replant a great deal of forests and halt the expansion of the Gobi desert.
European Unionhas paid farmers for afforestation since 1990, offering grants to turn farmland back into forest and payments for the management of forest. Between 1993 and 1997, EU afforestation policies made possible the re-forestation of over 5,000 square kilometres of land. A second program, running between 2000 and 2006, afforested in excess of 1000 square kilometres of land (precise statistics not yet available). A third such program began in 2007.
Iran is considered a low forest cover region of the world with present cover approximating seven percent of the land area. This is a value reduced by an estimated six million
hectaresof virgin forest, which species include oak, almondand pistacio.J.A.Stanturf, 2004] Due to the challenges of soil substrates that exist in Iran, it is difficult to achieve afforestation on a large scale compared to other temperate areas endowed with more fertile and less rocky and arid soil conditions.J.A.Stanturf, 2004] Consequently, most of the afforestation is conducted with non-native species,J.A.Stanturf, 2004] which practise is a form of habitat destructionfor native floraand fauna, resulting in accelerating loss of biodiversity.E.O. Wilson, 2002]
* Andrea Cattaneo (2002) "Balancing Agricultural Development and Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon", Int Food Policy Res Inst IFPRI, 146 pages ISBN:0896291308
* Gerrit W. Heil, Bart Muys and Karin Hansen (2007) "Environmental Effects of Afforestation in North-Western Europe", Springer, 320 pages ISBN:1402045670
* Gerald A. McBeath and Tse-Kang Leng (2006) "Governance of Biodiversity Conservation in China and Taiwan", Edward Elgar Publishing, 242 pages ISBN:1843768100
* John A. Stanturf and Palle Madsen (2004) "Restoration of Boreal and Temperate Forests", CRC Press, 569 pages ISBN:1566706351
* E. O. Wilson (2002) "The Future of Life", Vintage ISBN 0-679-76811-4
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