Steven Grossnickle

I have conducted work in the plant sciences/forestry field for over forty years within university and industry programs throughout the United States and Canada, regarding ecological and physiological processes related to forest ecosystem restoration, silvicultural operations and the production processes of operational nurseries. These have led to collaborations with the nursery industry, both forestry and horticulture, the forest industry and the worldwide forest community to address operational restoration issues. Findings from these programs have resulted in a published a book (Titled: Ecophysiology of Northern Spruce Species: The Performance of Planted Seedlings – NRC Press), and over 100 refereed scientific journal and technical papers (publications available for free at: I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Resource Management from Southern Illinois University, and a Master of Science degree in Forest Ecology and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Colorado State University in Plant Physiological Ecology. 
  • What do you think about the role of Scientific Societies in a 21st century? 
I think that the role of scientific societies is to provide a forum where like-minded individuals can have relevant discussions on topics that are specifically related to their field of interest. These societies can also be a forum to create ‘one voice’ on an issue, thereby enabling individuals to have a larger presence on the public and political stage when trying to educate society and make a positive change. 
  • What are the biggest reforestation challenges today? 
Providing enough high-quality seedlings to meet the forest restoration obligation to reforest sufficient lands to meet the demands that a growing human population is placing on the global forest ecosystem.  

  • And in the future? 

The need to have sound regeneration silvicultural practices to actually turn newly planted seedlings and seeded forest sites into established forest stands. In addition, there needs to be the development of forest restoration approaches that create forest ecosystems with proper biodiversity, not just forest plantations. 

  • What do you think about the global efforts and commitments to forest restoration? Are they realistic? 

Current forest restoration commitments put forward both governments and international agencies have the best intentions in reestablishing forest ecosystems around the world. What I see missing is the long-term financial commitment to create the regeneration silviculture infrastructure to establish and maintain these planned restored forests. 

  • What is the impact of seedling quality on planting success? 
Seedling quality is of paramount importance in the successful establishment of a forest restoration program. The seedling one plants on the restoration site is the one variable of the regeneration process that is under total control of the practitioner. All other aspects of the restoration process are affected by environmental conditions of restoration site. Silvicultural practices can be used to modify environmental conditions, though not totally control how site conditions affect seedling field performance. Thus, the practitioner needs to focus on creating the highest quality seedling possible to improve the success of the forest restoration program. My overall perspective is reflected in the following statement I have made in many publications on seedling quality. Planting seedlings with desirable plant attributes does not guarantee successful stand establishment; rather planting seedlings with desirable attributes increases chances for a successful forest restoration program. 

  • How would you define forest restoration/reforestation/afforestation success and failure? 

Restoration success needs to be defined as meeting the long-term management objective of developing a fully functional and ecologically sound forest stand. This means that depending on the forest ecosystem, there needs to be a commitment to silvicultural practices that span way beyond just planting seedlings, but to the point that one can state that one has developed a dynamic forested stand that fits within the regional forest ecosystem. 

  • My personal thoughts for the future generation of forest practitioners and researchers in conducting successful forest restoration programs. 
  1. Learn from the Past – Practices in forest restoration have been ongoing for generations. Look to their experiences, through oral and written sources, to access their knowledge and build upon their work. 
  2. Think Like a Tree – Don’t just ask how, but also ask why. Seedlings are biological entities. By understanding their ecophysiological response to nursery or field site conditions, one can get past just reporting on how they responded to specific cultural practices and achieve an understanding of why they responded to cultural conditions in a certain manner. By developing this understanding, one will be able to apply better cultural practices that meet needs of the seedling, thereby increase chances of forest restoration success. 
  3. Keep an Open Mind – We all come into a program with our subjective views on how an experiment or operational restoration program should unfold. For one to continually grow and learn, one needs to place one’s views to the side and learn from how the situation unfolds. Having worked in both research and operational programs, I have come to realize that both settings provide a good learning forum. So be open to new ideas and perspectives to keep learning and growing. As I learned working in operations, 10 million seedlings are not wrong… So, listen to what they are ‘saying’ and incorporate their ‘voice’ into your understanding of how seedlings grow. 
To join in, contribute, help, comment...
Your feedback will help us to improve our performance!
Kneza Višeslava 1
11030 Belgrade, Serbia

+381 64 23 83 584

ID: 28158661

Tax ID: 108768960

Account Nr. RS35170003003390100103

Copyright © 2020 - all rights reserved - Vladan Ivetić
Template by Sensode