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Nurseries are places where seedlings are raised for planting purposes. In the nursery the young seedlings are tended from sowing to develop in such a way as to be able to endure the hard field conditions. Whether local or introduced species, nursery seedlings are found to have better survival than seeds sown directly in the field or through natural regeneration. So nursery seedlings become the planting material for plantations, whether these plantations are for production, protection or amenity.

Nurseries are of two types, i.e.:

Temporary nurseries: These are established in or near the planting site. Once the seedlings for planting are raised, the nursery becomes part of the planted site. There are sometimes called "flying nurseries" (Figure 3.1).

Permanent nurseries: These can be large or small depending on the objective and the number of seedlings raised annually. Small nurseries contain less than 100,000 seedlings at a time while large nurseries contain more than this number. In all cases permanent nurseries must be well-designed, properly sited and with adequate water supply (Figure 3.2).

Seedling production is a major expense of afforestation and every effort should be made to produce good quality seedlings at a reasonable cost. To this end mastering the techniques of nursery operations is essential. This chapter will review the various operations involved in the production of seedlings.