Forest restoration is a multi-step process that can be complex and difficult depending upon management objectives and conditions of the site being restored. During the past several decades, a pronounced evolution has occurred in both the characteristics of the restoration areas and the objectives of restoration programs. Many areas that had been converted to agriculture have since been afforested. Intensive management practices, such as surface mining and road construction, yield extremely harsh sites requiring restoration.
Increasing public concern for ecological sustainability demands that restoration counteract environmental impacts, while simultaneously rehabilitating forest species, structure, and function, and enhancing the carbon sequestration capacity of the land. These tasks must now be accomplished under the dynamic nature of global change that implies higher water demand in most areas, but threats of inundation from flooding and other extreme climatic events in others. To meet these demands, new advances are needed, especially to account for the almost unlimited number of new species desired for forest restoration activities; nursery cultural practices must focus on overcoming planting stress on harsh restoration stress by enhancing the ability of seedlings to escape from frost, drought, nutrient deficits, vegetative competition, and even grazing; and planting designs and site treatments must be reconsidered to fulfill expectations for forest functionality.
In 2011, we held the 1st Restoring Forests Congress in Madrid, Spain to address recent advances in forest restoration techniques and theory. Selected papers from this symposium were published in New Forests (Vol 33, Issues 5-6). This 2nd Congress will continue to communicate advances in these themes. Yet, we will also explore what constitutes restoration in the 21st Century by re-defining the scope of forest restoration and narrowing our vision of restoration success in relation to a realistic, achievable end result. This conference will also highlight the need to continually integrate genetics into forest restoration, especially in relation to re-defining species selection and seed zones in relation to global change.