Reforestation Definition, Comparison and Importance Explained

Reforestation means the natural or human-induced replenishment or replacement of lost forest vegetation. This article discusses reforestation definition, comparison, and importance, as outlined below;


-Reforestation Definition: 5 Ways to Define Reforestation

-Afforestation Vs Reforestation: Difference between Afforestation and Reforestation

-Deforestation Vs Reforestation: Difference between Deforestation and Reforestation

-Importance of Reforestation




Reforestation Definition: 5 Ways to Define Reforestation

Reforestation can be defined simply as the act and process of re-cultivation of woody perennial vegetation in depleted forests.

The term ‘reforestation’ is in fact a broad one, and could be used in place of similar terms and concepts like re-vegetation, re-planting, and plant biomass-replenishment.

Also, the term is sometimes applied with regards to other ecosystems aside forests; including grasslands, tundras, and manmade biodynamic, vegetation-dominated ecosystems.

Below is an alternative reforestation definition, that describes the concept as a reversal of, or remedy to; deforestation;

Reforestation is an environmental remediation measure that is used to mitigate or reverse the environmental impacts of deforestation by restocking degraded or depleted forests with more trees and shrubs [2].

The reforestation definition below, highlights links between reforestation and the concept of sustainable development;

Reforestation is the replanting or regrowth of vegetation in forests that have been depleted as a result of natural disaster or human activity, as a means of establishing ecologic sustainability in such zones [3].

Some areas of importance, of reforestation, are mentioned in the reforestation definition below;

Reforestation is the process of regeneration, of lost vegetation in forests, which helps conserve energy resources, mitigate environmental degradation in the form of climate change, erosion and pollution; and also to facilitate the establishment of circular economy [1].

One of the key roles played by reforestation is the prevention or control of resource depletion. Reforestation also leads to energy conservation, since plants are a source of renewable bioenergy.

The final reforestation definition is given below, based on the possible means of methods by which it occurs;

Reforestation is the restoration, re-cultivation or regeneration of vegetation in depleted forests or other similar ecosystems, as a result of anthropogenic replanting or natural soil-seeding.

Reforestation Definition: Anthropogenic Replanting or Natural Seeding (Credit: Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington 2017 .CC BY 2.0.)
Reforestation Definition: Anthropogenic Replanting or Natural Seeding (Credit: Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington 2017 .CC BY 2.0.)


Afforestation Vs Reforestation: Difference between Afforestation and Reforestation

Afforestation and reforestation are similar in context, since they both involve the planting and growth of trees and shrubs on land. However, each concept is unique and differs from the other in its detail.

The difference between afforestation and reforestation lies in the ecologic history of the land on which vegetation growth occurs; where afforestation occurs on land without a history of significant forest growth, and reforestation occurs on land which is or has been occupied by forest vegetation.

Afforestation is generally more complex than reforestation, as it involves the conversion of un-forested land to forest.

This implies that a broad range of biological and physicochemical changes must occur before afforestation can be effective.

On the other hand, reforestation involves the regrowth of woody perennial species on land where they already exist or have existed in recent time. The required adjustments and adaptations for both land and plant species in reforestation is therefore minimal.


The table below summarizes the comparison between afforestation and reforestation;

Comparison Criteria



Land History

No necessary forest growth

Occupied by forest vegetation

Cause(s) of Vegetation

Mostly anthropogenic

Natural, anthropogenic

Context of Vegetation

Introductory growth

Replenishment or regrowth

Relative Complexity




Deforestation Vs Reforestation: Difference between Deforestation and Reforestation

Deforestation and reforestation can be considered to be reverse concepts of each other.

The difference between deforestation and reforestation lies in the direction of vegetation growth; where deforestation involves reverse/negative growth or loss of vegetation; and afforestation involves positive growth and increase in vegetation.


Below is a table that summarizes the comparison between deforestation and afforestation;

Comparison Criteria



Growth direction/trend




Mostly anthropogenic

Mostly anthropogenic, may also be natural

Environmental Impact




Importance of Reforestation

The importance of reforestation lies in its positive impacts on the environment, economy and society; which include the mitigation of degradation, replenishment of raw materials, and improvement of public health.

Some key areas of importance of reforestation are outlined below;

1). Air quality improvement

2). Ecologic sustainability

3). Biodiversity preservation

4). Energy recovery and conservation

5). Resource replenishment

6). Soil conservation (through erosion prevention and carbon sequestration)

7). Public health improvement



Reforestation is the act and process of restoring or replenishing lost, woody perennial vegetation in depleted forests.

Reforestation differs from afforestation and deforestation in terms of ecologic history and growth-trend, respectively.

The importance of reforestation includes; air quality improvement, ecologic sustainability, biodiversity protection, energy recovery and conservation, resource replenishment, soil conservation, and public health improvement.



1). Abbate, S.; Paolo, L.; Carapellucci, R.; Cipollone, R. (2021). “Urban context and neighbouring lands: how reforestation could have a role in the implementation of Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans.” E3S Web of Conferences 312, 10002. Available at: (Accessed 24 November 2022).

2). Cunningham, S. C.; Nally, M.; Baker, P. J.; Cavagnaro, T. R.; Beringer, J.; Thonson, J. R.; Thompson, R. M. (2015). “Balancing the environmental benefits of reforestation in agricultural regions.” Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics Volume 17, Issue 4, July 2015, Pages 301-317. Available at: (Accessed 24 November 2022).

3). Tidball, K. G.; Metcalf, S.; Bain, M.; Elmqvist, T. (2018). “Community-led reforestation: cultivating the potential of virtuous cycles to confer resilience in disaster disrupted social–ecological systems.” Sustainability Science 13(5737). Available at: (Accessed 24 November 2022).

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