Topic 1: Restoring Degraded Forests – Definitions and Context


Forest cover has declined by 40% since the mid 18th century, and the rate of loss has increased over the last 50 years in direct correlation with the continuing human population increase. The damage to forests ranges from selective removal of trees and understory to the complete destruction of the forest and replacement with other land uses. In this first topic students review broad trends in forest degradation and develop an understanding of what is degraded forest. The properties of degraded forests are identified in terms of changes in species composition, overall site biomass carrying capacity and decline in the biotic regulation of site resources, and the ability to recover from natural and artificial disturbance.

Video Lecture

Please view the following video lecture and video for this topic.

2.1 Lecture: Degraded Forest Systems

2.1 Video: Forest Restoration Temperate Forest

Topic 1 Reflection Questions

Please answer the following self-reflection questions. After formulating your answers, you may post them online at the Knowledge Café for this course as a way to share your ideas and glean knowledge from other students’ responses.

  1. List properties that distinguish degraded forests from primary forests in good condition.
  2. What forest ecosystem processes can we quantify that give us a measure of the properties of degraded forests?
  3. Give an example from the peer-reviewed literature of studies that describe and measure forest degradation in (a) a tropical climate and (b) a temperate climate. Briefly outline how each study measured the characteristics of the degraded forest.

Supplementary Readings


Lamb, D. (2011). Regreening the bare hills: Tropical forest restoration in the Asia-Pacific region. Dordrecht, Heidelberg, London, New York: Springer.

Lamb, D., & Chapman, M.D. (2014). Large scale forest restoration. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN-10: 0415663180; ISBN-13: 9780415663182

Articles in Journals

Lamb, D. (2012). Forest restoration: The third big silvicultural challenge. Journal of Tropical Forest Science, 24 (3), 295-299.

Stanturf, J. A., Palik, B. J., & Dumroese, R. K. (2014). Contemporary forest restoration: A review emphasizing function. Forest Ecology and Management, 331, 292-323.