The International Forestry Review

Small island states feature prominently amongst the least
developed nations, and many are economically vulnerable
(McGillivray et al. 2010, Wittersheim 2011). Sustainable
development may depend on adding value to local products
to create employment, to displace imports and to generate
exports. In many cases, especially in the tropics, opportunities
that exist in the agricultural and forestry sectors are hampered
by the poor state of knowledge of potential species and
markets. Forest products are of particular interest because
of their role in construction, in import substitution, and the
relative simplicity of their transport and storage. Despite this
potential role, there has been relatively little attention devoted
to the process and practice of domesticating tree species for
use in plantations, especially for non-industrial plantations.
Planted forests may take many forms, spanning a wide
range including extremes such as the near-natural Damar
(Shorea javanica) forests in Sumatra (e.g. Torquebiau 1985,
Michon et al. 2007), to short-rotation Eucalyptus monoculture
plantations in Brazil (Campinhos 1999) and to agroforestry
plantings such as Grevillea robusta over coffee in Kenya
(Lott et al. 2000). So it is appropriate to examine the broad
scope of silvicultural and industrial options available to support
an emerging industry, particularly given the constraints
of small island States (Briguglio 1995). Wilkinson et al.
(2000) offered a useful classification of ‘plantation forestry’,
and discriminated between woodlots, sequential and intercropping
systems (such as taungya, Jordan et al. 1992), wide
row intercropping, dispersed trees and land rehabilitation.
This classification emphasises the reality that industrial
plantations with trees in straight lines may not be the preferred
approach, and that a broader range of options warrant
consideration.
Here, we examine domestication of forest tree species in
the broad sense, considering the principles of domestication,
reviewing case studies from several regions, and offering
guidance specific to small island nations. We do not attempt a
comprehensive review of all aspects of tree domestication,
a considerable task not amenable to a journal article and
addressed comprehensively elsewhere in the case of industrial
plantations of exotic species (e.g., Libby 1973, Bradshaw
and Strauss 2001) and multipurpose trees for agroforestry
(e.g., Leakey et al. 1996, Leakey and Tomich 1999). Our
focus is on domestication of native timber species in situ, in
the humid tropics.
 

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