Friday, September 16, 2016

Land Evaluation and Species-Site Suitability Determination for Forest Plantation Establishment

Abstract of a presentation conducted by
Sohani Vithanage
Department of Forestry and Environmental Science
University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka

Decisions about the use of land have always been a part of human society. Forestry planning has always taken account of the influence of conditions of land in taking management decisions. The approach and methods of land evaluation were developed in order to provide a systematic framework for assessing the effects of land on potential benefits of each land use. Land evaluation is based upon a comparison between land use and land type. Land use related to forestry can be broadly categorized as production forestry, conservation forestry, recreational forestry and community forestry. These major land uses can be further described in detail according to tree species, silvicultural methods, harvesting practices etc. The focus of land evaluation is to access the requirements and limitation of each of this land use and to compare this with the properties of land.
In the process of land evaluation land use requirements for each identified land utilization type is defined. Simultaneously, land qualities and characteristics of each land unit is described using literature surveys and ground surveys. These data is then coupled with economic and social data to develop a comprehensive comparison of land use with land. The outputs of land evaluation can be presented in terms of land suitability classifications or land suitability maps. At present, this procedure can be carried out with the help of computerized land evaluation systems and geographic information systems. In determining the species site suitability for forest plantation establishment, three aspects have to be considered. They are purpose of plantation, species availability and environmental conditions. For this process, depending on the species and sites, information survey can extend from local level to international level.

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