Key words: history of plantations, site potential, nutrition, soil properties, plantation yield
Abstract. Planted forests have more than a millennium of history and represent the world's best hope for meeting global wood requirements in the twenty-first century. Advances in genetic improvement, nursery practices, stand establishment, and tending, harvesting, and manufacturing have boosted plantation yields to a higher level than at any point in history. Despite this, forest managers face a mounting challenge to demonstrate that plantation productivity is sustainable. Tackling this challenge requires a sound understanding of the principles of forest productivity, how they apply to a developing plantation, and how they are influenced by management. In this paper criticisms of plantation forestry are discussed from the basis of world experience, and examples of productivity decline are described. Obvious declines are rare, and can be attributed to poor soil management. However, ambiguities exist and controversy will continue until sustainable productivity can be demonstrated conclusively. Proposed programs aim to provide the technical base needed for sound soil management and sustainable plantation productivity.