Arborvitae, the WWF/IUCN Forest Conservation Newsletter, issue 31, focus on forest plantations | WWF

Arborvitae, the WWF/IUCN Forest Conservation Newsletter, issue 31, focus on forest plantations

Posted on 20 October 2006
Arborvitae 31, the WWF/IUCN Forest Conservation Newsletter

There’s nothing quite like plantations for stirring up a heated debate in forestry circles. Some see forest plantations as the answer not only to the growing demand for timber and wood fibre, but also to the problem of natural forest loss. Plantations, they say, lessen the need to log natural forests and thus contribute to the conservation of forest biodiversity.

Others, however, see forest plantations as biological deserts, water guzzlers, livelihood saboteurs and carbuncles on the landscape. Plantations, they say, actually increase pressure on natural forests by replacing diversity with monocultural monotony and flooding the market with cheap fibre that can either make natural forest management uncompetitive or, somewhat to the contrary, help raise consumer demand for wood products from planted and natural forests alike.

Alongside this rather polarized debate, a diverse group of actors from government, NGO and industry is searching for ways of enhancing the contribution of forest plantations both to local livelihoods and landscape-level forest conservation. A number of institutions, including the FSC and FAO, are currently undertaking multi-stakeholder reviews on the issue. WWF and IUCN are closely involved in these initiatives and are actively supporting efforts, such as that of The Forests Dialogue, to increase the level of knowledge, bring more balance to the debate and help develop sensible workable solutions.

Planted forests are neither inherently good nor bad; rather it is the choices we make about how to use them that determine whether they contribute to, or detract from, broader societal goals such as poverty reduction and nature conservation. Whether we like it or not, plantations are here to stay and are capable of delivering ancillary social and environmental co-benefits. Dismissing plantations as “not forests” but simply just another agricultural crop is therefore counterproductive. Whether at the smallholder or industrial level, planted forests can and ought to be managed to optimize the delivery of other forest values beyond that of wood fibre production.

In this issue of arborvitæ, we examine plantations from a range of different perspectives and explore the wider role that they can play in forest conservation and local livelihoods. 


  • News from around the world
    Good news on soy, not so good on pulp mill financing, plus news in brief
  • International initiatives
    Plantation-related initiatives by FSC, FAO and The Forests Dialogue
  • Plantations and forest livelihoods
  • Feature: Forest plantations – threatening or saving natural forests?
  • Environmental benefits from plantations
  • Plantation industry perspectives
  • WWF focus: Smallholder plantations in Vietnam
  • IUCN focus: Incentives for industrial plantations
  • Reviews in brief
Arborvitae 31, the WWF/IUCN Forest Conservation Newsletter
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