Restoration Silviculture: An Ecophysiological Perspective - Lessons learned across 40 years

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Steven C Grossnickle

Abstract

Involvement in forest restoration programs across North America for the past 40 years, dealing with nursery cultural practices, operational seedling quality programs and defining seedling performance on restoration sites has given me a unique perspective, which I have used to examine programs from both a research and operational perspective. Certain biological patterns and themes continually appeared across these programs and this paper discusses five of the most common themes.Learning To Think Like a Tree – It is important for practitioners to develop an understanding of the ecophysiological performance of tree species in a nursery or forest restoration program in order to understand how seedlings grow. This understanding leads to sound biologically based cultural decisions to improve seedling performance.Stress and the Cyclical Nature of Stress Resistance – Seedlings are exposed to stress when environmental conditions limit their performance. Plants develop physiological resistance attributes to mitigate stress and these attributes change throughout the seasonal cycle. Practitioners have developed hardening cultural practices that enhance seedling stress resistance, thereby improving seedling quality and site restoration success.Seedling Quality: Product versus Process – Seedling quality is an important component of successful restoration. Typically seedling quality is examined from a product perspective, thus defining functional integrity, operational grading or sometimes performance potential. An alternative approach monitors the process, with product quality the final output.Planting Stress and Seedling Establishment – Planting stress is prevalent in forest restoration. The act of planting can result in a seedling that does not have proper connections for water movement through the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum (SPAC). Seedling water stress, reduced growth performance and potentially death can occur if this SPAC connection is not restored.Seedling Death: Sometimes Simple and Sometimes Complicated – Seedling death can occur in restoration programs as a result of environmental extremes or incorrect management practices. Some problems can be easy to diagnose and correct practices can be implemented to rectify the problem. Other times, issues are complicated and it can be a challenge to define the potential factors causing seedling death.

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GROSSNICKLE, Steven C. Restoration Silviculture: An Ecophysiological Perspective - Lessons learned across 40 years. REFORESTA, [S.l.], n. 1, p. 1-36, june 2016. ISSN 2466-4367. Available at: <http://journal.reforestationchallenges.org/index.php/REFOR/article/view/15>. Date accessed: 21 apr. 2018. doi: https://doi.org/10.21750/REFOR.1.02.2.
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