Study shows plantation forests need more management

Not only professionals but also many people around the world have become aware that better plans, regulations, and appropriate management to ensure forest quality, growth rate, and productivity are more important than simply telling or letting people plant trees. Therefore, APFNet launched a project “Construction of multifunctional forest management demonstration” to demonstrate the multifunctional forest management approach and explore how economic, social, environmental and cultural benefits are balanced and enhanced, both at the farm and within the wider region. This project also supported Wangyedian Forest Farm to develop a stand-level operational ten-year forest management plan (2013–2022), incorporating sustainable forest management principles, and APFNet Multifunctional Forest Experience and Training Centre for forest-related education, ecotourism and forest therapy.

Based on the project outcomes of phases I and II, APFNet staff did research on the productivity and profitability of Larix principis-rupprechtii and Pinus tabuliformis plantation forests. It is found that high initial planting densities without thinning cause high mortality and slow growth rates, leading to an unprofitable outcome. Thinning operations increase both diameter and height growth of the retained trees, boosting the merchantable volume of large-diameter trees and thus the profitability and productivity. The optimal rotation ages with heavy thinning of Larix principisrupprechtii and Pinus tabuliformis plantations are 7–8 years longer than what the current management regulation recommends. But the productivity per ha per year of Larix principis-rupprechtii in the heavy thinning regime doubled to 8.21 m3. For Pinus tabuliformis, the thinning treatments cause the productivity gains to increase from 5.1 to 7.9%. The constraints of government regulation without allowance for thinning to the near-mature stands and increasing the intensity could severely reduce the profitability and productivity.
 We believe that this study shows some important and timely implications for improving the plantation performance not only locally but at the regional level to share our research and experiences. 

To read the full research article visit here.