Promises and perils of plantation forestry

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Plantation forestry is an increasingly important part of the global forestry industry. In the decade to 2010, global expansion of planted forests averaged five million hectares (ha) annually, mostly through afforestation of land that had not been recently forested (FAO 2010). This rate of expansion is substantially higher than in previous decades (FAO 2010) and is happening worldwide, as shown in Table 9.1, although more than half of all planted forests are located in just five countries (China, the United States, the Russian Federation, Japan and India). Within this global snapshot, there are very different trends: countries such as China (Xu 2011) and Vietnam (Government of Vietnam 2011) are pursuing rapid growth of tree plantations, while in much of North America and Europe there is a large existing plantation estate and more limited expansion (FAO 2010).

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