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Natural vs. plantation forests: A case study of land reclamation strategies for the humid tropics


Biomass and productivity were compared in two plantations and in one stand of natural regeneration on similar sites in a premontane moist forest region of Puerto Rico. While initial growth rates of plantation species were higher, after four decades productivity of the natural regeneration plots was equal to or greater than productivity of the plantations. For the first 44 years, aboveground biomass of natural regeneration increased at an average annual rate of 3.8t·ha−1·yr−1, but the last year of the study it was 14.7t·ha−1. Biomass increment of a pine plantation averaged between 8 and 10.5t·ha−1·yr−1 except for one year when the rate was much lower, possibly because of hurricane damage. A tropical hardwood plantation averaged close to 4t·ha−1·yr−1 for 41 years. It is suggested that in countries where funds for land reclamation are limited, intensive plantations may not always be the best strategy. Natural regeneration or shelterbelt plantations may be suitable alternatives.

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Jordan, C.F., Farnworth, E.G. Natural vs. plantation forests: A case study of land reclamation strategies for the humid tropics. Environmental Management 6, 485–492 (1982).

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Key words

  • Land reclamation strategies
  • Natural regeneration
  • Plantation forests