In the practice of analog forestry, it is important to have a repository of information of useful species to include in forest designs. For example, a design may require trees of a certain height or ecological function – how do designers decide which species to use?

Often, the answer lies in the local knowledge of an area – people know which trees grow well and which poorly. However, when dealing with an unfamiliar area or species that do not have a long history in an area, it is useful to have a systematized resource of information of plant species and their use in analog forestry designs.

This is the niche that the IAFN plant database seeks to fill. It is a project that has been in the works since 2010, when an analog forestry initiative in Central America and the Caribbean collected detailed information on the species used in analog forestry sites in the area. Over the last year, this information was systematized and built into a searchable database that is now available to the public.

To use the IAFN plant database, and use the following instructions:

IAFN Plant Database -1

The search dialogue on the landing page allows you to enter a species name. Both common and scientific names are accepted. Also, by selecting the ‘advanced search’ option, you can filter your search by further characteristics.

IAFN Plant Database - 2

The most pertinent categories here are the ‘physiognomic formula growth type’ and ‘physiognomic formula height class’. These are especially useful when working with the physiognomic formula, a tool in analog forestry.

IAFN Plant Database - 3

The search results are organized by relevance, and all the species shown have a ‘show’ button which you can press to see more of the details. Notice here that a search for ‘acacia’ turned up species with ‘acacia’ in either their common or scientific names.

IAFN Plant Database - 4

When you click on the ‘show’ link, you will be taken to a page where you can peruse the details of the plant, including ecological conditions, uses, and taxonomic information. It is important to note that the database is a work in progress. If you encounter inaccurate or incomplete information, or you would like to contribute your knowledge, please write to the IAFN secretariat at

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