Use different planting or seeding methods

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • Four studies (including one replicated, randomized study) in Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica and Mexico found no effect of planting or seeding methods on the size and survival rate of seedlings.
  • One replicated, controlled study in Brazil found that planting early succession pioneer tree species decreased the height of other planted species.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated study in tropical forest in Mexico (Negreros-Castillo & Hall 1996) found that seeding method had no effect on mahogany Swietenia macrophylla seedling survival and height. Survival rate (32-35%) and height (20-22 cm) did not differ between treatments. Twenty-five plots (0.2 ha) were each seeded with 300 mahogany seeds using two seeding methods: seeds dropped from 1 m height and seeds planted into 3 cm deep holes. Data were collected 12 months after seeding.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, controlled study in 2001-2002 in eucalypt forest in Australia (Parsons et al. 2006) found no effect of planting density on planted seedlings biomass and survival rate. Seedling weight (low density 34.2; high density: 34.5 g dry mass/plot) and survival (leaving plant/18 plants) (low density 11.3; high density: 11.4) were similar between treatments. Data were collected in winter 2002 in 16 replicates (each planted with a different species) of eight plots: four planted at low-density (with nine plants) and four at high-density (0.5 and 0.1 m between plants respectively) in August 2001, at each of two rehabilitated bauxite-mine sites.

    Study and other actions tested
  3. A replicated, randomized study in 2004-2005 in tropical forest in Paraná, Brazil (Bruel, Marques & Britez 2010) found no difference between manual or mechanical planting on seedlings growth rate. One year after planting, the height (manual: 88 cm; mechanical: 59 cm) and height relative growth (manual: 0.88 cm/cm; mechanical: 0.98 cm/cm) were similar between treatments. Two treatments: manual planting (holes dug manually; seedlings wrapped in polyethylene bags) and mechanical planting (soil prepared with a rotary tiller attached to a tractor; seedlings in polypropylene tubes) were established in three random 20 × 20 m plots. Seedlings were planted in July 2004 and were measured one month and 13 months after planting.

    Study and other actions tested
  4. A replicated, paired-sites study in 2004-2008 in tropical forest in Costa Rica (Holl et al. 2011) found no effect of planting method on seedling survival, height, and canopy area. For the four planted species, there was no difference between patch and plantation treatments for: survival (Terminalia amazonia: 70-75%; Vochysia guatemalensis: 74-77%; Erythrina poeppigiana: 84-87%; Inga edulis: 95-97%), height increase (T. amazonia: 1.8-2.3 m; V. guatemalensis: 2.5-3.0 m; E. poeppigiana: 3.7-3.9 m; I. edulis: 4.2-4.8 m) and canopy area (T. amazonia: 2-4 m2; V. guatemalensis: 5-7 m2; E. poeppigiana: 7-8 m2; I. edulis: 25-30 m2). Twelve pairs of two treatments (50 × 50 m): patch (two small, two medium, and two large patches each planted with 5, 13 and 25 seedlings of the four species respectively) and plantation (313 seedlings of the four species planted throughout) were established in 2004-2005. Data were collected three years after planting.

    Study and other actions tested
  5. A replicated, controlled study in 2004-2008 in tropical forest in Brazil (Massad et al. 2011) found that planting early succession pioneer tree species decreased the height of the other planted species. Seedlings were taller in plots without pioneer species (no pioneers planted: 269 cm; pioneers planted: 243 cm). In 2004, thirty six plots (50 × 50 m) were planted with 4–9 tree-seedlings/m2. Half of the plots were planted with seedlings of 120 non-pioneer tree species and half of the plots were also planted with 2-4 pioneer species. Data were collected in 2008. All plots were cleared and then abandoned in 1990.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Agra, H., Schowanek, S., Carmel, Y., Smith, R.K. & Ne’eman, G. (2020) Forest Conservation. Pages 323-366 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Forest Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Forest Conservation
Forest Conservation

Forest Conservation - Published 2016

Forest synopsis

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What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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