Site and species selection — Changing perspectives

Site and species selection — Changing perspectives


Plantation forestry in the tropics today is characterized by increasing refinement of matching species with site and increasing emphasis on non-industrial purposes for growing trees. This perspective comments on the increased number of objectives that a tropical forester or scientist is called upon to fulfill.

goals & methods

The forester is called upon to satisfy many more objectives, environmental and social as well as industrial, and this leads to a need to reappraise choice of species. It is not sufficient to cultivate the trees which grow best, with a reasonably amenable industry using his product, but to grow species suited to villagers' needs or the requirements of erosion control. The variety of site types for tree planting in the tropics is widening. This includes restocking as well as new planting, agroforestry opportunities and planting around farms, increasing needs to reforest eroding lands, and the challenge of preventing the complete transition from forest to grassland, by judicious tree planting before grass dominates, of the millions of hectares affected by over-intensive shifting cultivation.

Conclusions & takeaways

Priorities and perspectives are changing as the value placed on trees and tree cover increases. It remains essential to silviculture that species and sites are matched but the resulting forest must be appropriate for the job, whether product grown, benefit conferred or both.


Evans J. Site and species selection — Changing perspectives. Forest Ecology and Management. 1987;21:299–310. doi:10.1016/0378-1127(87)90050-8.


  • International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London, Great Britain