People have been planting trees to restock forests for a very long time. In the 16th century, for instance, wealthy landowners in Britain and Europe established tree plantations to supply timber for shipbuilding. In the 13th century, Portugal’s King Afonso III had a pine forest planted, known as the Pinhal do Rei, to hold back encroaching sand dunes (and provide timber for the royal navy). In the 5th century, monks on the Adriatic coast reportedly planted a pine forest to supply themselves with fuelwood and food. Even before these forests took root, Roman senator and historian Cato the Elder, who died in 149 B.C., recorded the planting of conifers to provide timber for ships. Earlier still, the Zhou Empire, which ruled China from 1100 B.C. to 256 B.C., created a forest service specifically dedicated to preserving natural forests and replanting cut forests. And there’s evidence that Indigenous peoples’ planting of domesticated species prior to the arrival of European settlers influenced the composition of the Amazon Rainforest we know today far more than researchers previously realized. These are, essentially, early examples of tree planting aimed at supplying some service or product. Tree planting as a means of replacing functional native forests is a much more recent endeavor. “Reforestation in terms of ecological restoration, that is, reestablishing forests that will be similar to their previous ecological state, is a relatively recent ambition for Western society,” Kate Hardwick, a conservation scientist at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, told Mongabay, “although it has been practiced…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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