Module II Introduction

Module 2 introduces the terminology and practices used in describing and managing the restoration of degraded forests. As world population has increased exponentially over the last 50 years, the area of Earth’s surface influenced by human activities has increased rapidly so that the area of modified natural forests now exceeds the area of primary forest. The area of semi-natural forest and forest plantations is also increasing. At a global scale, large areas of forest have been degraded by human activities, and in many areas forests have been removed and replaced with other land uses such as agriculture, urban development, and roads. Forest degradation involves a reduction in the biomass of the forest, while deforestation is the complete removal of the forest. In this module, we will address the topic of restoration of degraded forests and deforested areas including tree-planting approaches. In this case, tree planting constitutes afforestation or reforestation of deforested areas for environmental protection and ecosystem services rather than for intensive commercial production. The development of single species (monoculture) planted forests for commercial production is addressed in module 3. Here we first describe the definition of degraded forest and discuss the context for forest restoration projects. Students are directed to online resources to investigate approaches for restoring degraded forests and to research ways to monitor and measure the success of forest restoration projects in tropical and temperate settings.