The Scientific Basis of the Target Plant Concept: An Overview

Academic Article


  • Reforestation and restoration using nursery-produced seedlings is often the most reliable way to ensure successful establishment and rapid growth of native plants. Plant establishment success—that is, the ability for the plant to develop within a set period of time with minimal further interventions needed—depends greatly on decisions made prior to planting, and yet nursery-grown plants are often produced independently of considering the range of stressors encountered after nursery production. The optimal plant or seedling will vary greatly with species and site (depending on edaphic and environmental conditions), and in having the biological capacity to withstand human and wildlife pressures placed upon vegetative communities. However, when nursery production strategies incorporate knowledge of genetic variability, address limiting factors, and include potential mitigating measures, meeting the objectives of the planting project—be it reforestation or restoration—becomes more likely. The Target Plant Concept (TPC) is an effective framework for defining, producing, and handling seedlings and other types of plant material based on specific characteristics suited to a given site. These characteristics are often scientifically derived from testing factors that are linked to outplanting success, such as seedling morphology and physiology, genetic source, and capacity to overcome limiting factors on outplanting sites. This article briefly summarizes the current knowledge drawn from existing literature for each component of the TPC framework, thereby helping land managers and scientists to meet objectives and accelerate reforestation and restoration trajectories.
  • Authors

  • Davis, Anthony S.
  • Pinto, Jeremiah R
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • September 2021
  • Published In

  • Forests  Journal
  • Keywords

  • genetics
  • nursery production
  • outplanting
  • plant materials
  • seedling quality
  • seedlings
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 1293
  • End Page

  • 1293
  • Volume

  • 12
  • Issue

  • 9