Module III Summary

In this module, we have clearly identified the growing importance of intensively managed forest plantations in supplying wood and fibre for a range of products. The module steps through the important consideration in establishing a plantation enterprise, discussing the purpose of the plantation, species selection considerations, and the aspects of the site and environment that are the most important in matching of species to site. Tree plantations are established with intensive inputs to site preparation to enable rapid early growth of planted seedlings to capture site resources in the crop trees. Most site resources are fixed and cannot be changed so that once the trees are planted the management options to increase plantation value are more limited. Forests live on their past accumulation of nutrients through processes of nutrient cycling, so in a plantation context the decomposition and uptake of nutrient elements from tree residues and the management of tree residues between rotations is crucial in maintaining and building site resources over successive rotations. Apart from managing nutrition to grow more wood in a given time, the spacing of trees, managed through selective tree removal or thinning, was identified as a means to grow fewer larger trees in a given time. Similarly, the practice of pruning lower branches was discussed as a means for producing more clear wood with fewer knots in the lower portion of the tree stem to increase the value of the tree for saw-timber.