USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Region

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Reforestation Trends

The decade immediately following deforested conditions is an exciting time in the life of a forest. There is an explosion of activity. Hardwoods and many shrub species sprout from root systems. Seeds from conifers, hardwoods, shrubs, forbs, and grass find fertile locations to germinate. Animals respond to the changes in habitat. How it all comes together in the first decade often defines the species composition and sets the stage for the type of forest that will be there for decades to centuries. The rate of development can vary substantially.

Deforested areas can be allowed to recover naturally or the recovery process can be assisted with a set of treatments (e.g. preparing sites for planting or natural seeding, planting desired species, controlling invasive non-native plants and releasing desired plants from competing vegetation) designed to influence the species composition, structure, and rate of development of the future forest. The newly developing forest structure, in turn influences the various functions of the forest, like its ability to provide wildlife habitat, sequester carbon, protect soil, yield clean water and many other ecosystem services. The developing structure and species composition also sets the stage for the way the new forest will respond to future fires.

Planting desired species may be critical in areas where a fire or other disturbance has eliminated the seed source for natural reforestation over a large area (> 1000 acres) or has severely narrowed the genetic diversity by eliminating all but a very small population of seed producing trees.

Those portions of a deforested area where managers seek to assist recovery with some type of reforestation effort are deemed to have a "reforestation need". Once an area has received a reforestation treatment, an accomplishment is reported. The graph below shows the trend in needs and accomplishments.

Region 5 Trends in Reforestation Needs and Accomplishments.

USDA Forest Service - Pacific Southwest Region
Last Modified: Friday, 13 April 2012 at 18:33:05 CDT

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