The Top 6 Tree Planting Methods for Reforestation
In the face of climate change and deforestation, tree planting projects are proving an essential tool in the restoration of our planet’s health and future.
But the success of these projects depends on the growth, survival and regeneration of the trees within, which is where the expertise of our tree planting partner comes in.
Through years of first-hand experience, research and local knowledge, our tree planting partner Eden Reforestation has adopted a set of robust tree planting methods that each suit different climates, landscapes, species and project sizes. The results? High survival rates, towering growth and significant reforestation across our planet.
In this blog, we’re exploring the six main methods used across the tree planting projects on our platform: singling/farmer managed natural regeneration, seed balls, seedling nurseries, bare root, direct seedling, and mangrove propagules.
Let’s get digging.
1. Singling / Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR)
FMNR, also known as singling, encourages the regeneration of existing roots, stumps and seeds in areas where the natural tree base has depleted but not disappeared.
The process involves cutting back bushy shoots of coppice trees and leaving one or two dominant stems. These stems sap up energy from the existing root system, using it for its own tree growth. And, this growth has a knock-on effect on the whole forest; providing essential shade, moisture retention and soil nutrients for other trees, plants and wildlife.
- Quick to implement
- High regeneration rates
2. Seed Balls
You may have heard of seed balls referred to as seed bombs, for the very reason that they’re thrown into sparse areas of land and explode into a beautiful array of tree species.
Seed balls consist of soil mixed with compost and clay. The mixture is rolled into a marble-sized ball with seeds inserted into the middle and left to dry until the rainy season. Once the rainy season arrives, the dried seed balls are either scattered in the planting area or placed into small holes where they break down over time, allowing the seeds to sprout.
Key to the success of this tree planting method is the use of native, fast-growing and high-germination rate seed species. Germination typically takes place in only a few days.
- Useful in difficult-to-reach areas or when traditional tree planting methods aren’t possible
- Local villagers are employed to collect and sort seeds
3. Seedling Nursery
You’ll recognise seedling nurseries from many of our project photos, including those of our tree planting project in Nepal.
Seedling nurseries are purpose-built areas where seeds are sewn and nurtured until they grow into young plants called seedlings. Once the seedlings reach a certain level of maturity, they are transported to their final location ready for planting and long-term growth.
This planting method is popular because it brings significant benefits to the reforestation process. The controlled environment provides everything needed for maximum growth while minimising the elements that can threaten survival. These nurseries are also powerhouses, containing between 25,000-400,000 seedlings at any one time.
- Ideal for slower-growing species and agroforestry trees
- Enhanced survival rates
- Higher quantity of healthy trees produced
4. Bare Root
The bare root planting method is an intricate one but it’s one that maximises a forest’s existing potential to regenerate trees.
During the onset of the rainy season, seedlings are gently harvested from healthy forests by removing the soil from their roots before replanting them in an adjacent area. Why? Well, left where they are, they are unlikely to survive thanks to overcrowding and excessive shade. By moving the seedlings to their own space, their chance of survival is immediately increased and their growth can benefit a currently deforested area of land.
The bare root method can also be used when harvesting saplings from seedling nurseries. By removing the soil, the saplings become lighter and easier to transport, which is important in large-scale planting projects. The important key to success is performing this method during a tree’s dormant season to minimise shock and maximise survival.
- Increased survival rates
- Assists natural regeneration
5. Direct Seedling
Direct seedling uses the onset of the rainy season to its advantage. Seeds are planted directly into the soil in random places (as opposed to straight lines) to mimic natural tree regeneration. By doing this before the rainy season arrives, the seeds are presented with the best conditions to grow into saplings and thrive into maturity, as Mother Nature intended.
The huge advantage of direct seedling is bypassing the nursery stage, which reduces the time and cost involved in tree planting. It is, however, only suitable for certain tree types and conditions.
- Great for large reforestation projects
6. Mangrove Propagules
The mangrove tree species has a unique way of repopulating, which we can assist with to enhance reforestation.
The seedlings of mangrove trees growing in estuary habitats begin their germination process while attached to the parent tree. They grow into what’s called mangrove propagules and eventually drop off their parent tree once reaching a certain level of maturity. However, due to overcrowding and excessive shade, survival rates are low.
To change this, ripe propagules are collected and replanted directly into the mud of restoration sites within specific tidal zones – providing the perfect conditions for survival. The propagule can thrive and grow into a mature mangrove tree, producing its own propagules within three to five years to continue the cycle of life.
- Cost- and time-effective
- Can be replanted in both dry and rainy seasons
- Great for estuary reforestation
There you have the six key planting methods used in reforestation projects around the world, all contributing to the restoration of our planet, one tree at a time.
To plant your own tree for only £1, sign up to the More Trees platform today or get in touch to discuss how to implement a tree planting campaign in your business.