Difference Between Afforestation and Reforestation

Afforestation vs Reforestation

Afforestation and reforestation are the converse of avoiding deforestation. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) these terms are defined as direct human induced conservation of non- forested lands back to forested lands with the help of activities such as planting, seeding, and human- induced promotions of natural seed sources. Globally, around 4.5 million hectares of non- forested lands are reforested every year. Afforestation and reforestation can be done by properly planned processes such as deliberate planning or establishing of trees. However, much of these processes take place naturally on non- forested lands like grasslands or peat lands.  Depending on the land, methods, and species used, afforestation and reforestation may have a range of effect on ecosystems. If historically forested degraded lands are used for afforestation and reforestation, it is recommended to use ecosystem-compatible native species.  However, some large-scale afforestation and reforestation activities may have a negative effect on natural ecosystems and threaten endemic or endangered species of plants and animals. Therefore, planting species must be carefully chosen, and invasion of invasive species must be avoided at the initial stages of afforestation and reforestation.


Afforestation is the developing of forests on lands that have not been forested for a longer period, or never were, due to adverse factors like unstable soil, aridity or swamps. This process causes rapid and dramatic accumulation of carbon in tree biomass. In addition, it also leads to accumulate carbon in litter and soil organic carbon. For example, afforestation can be done on agricultural lands that had not been used for a longer time.


Reforestation is the reestablishment of forests on lands where forests were recently removed or destroyed due to uncontrolled forest fires, excessive felling and lopping. Sometimes, this term is used to distinguish between the original forest cover and the later re-forested area. Reforestation is the best method to reduce global warming and decrease the pollutant levels.

What is the difference between Afforestation and Reforestation?

• Afforestation is the reestablishment of forests on lands that have not been forested for a longer period, or never was.

• Reforestation is the reestablishment of forests on lands where the forests were recently destroyed.