Analog forestry is a system of planned, managed forests, primarily employed in tropical or subtropical areas. The forests are designed to mimic the function and ecology of the preexisting climax vegetation for the area, and are also designed to provide economic benefits.
Analog forestry draws design input not only from traditional models but also from the natural forest successional dynamics. When an ecosystem is designed to be analogous to the indigenous climax state, the efficiency and dynamics of the natural processes can be replicated. These quasi-natural forests are designed to mimic the structural and functional aspects of indigenous forests and are referred to as analog forests. In addition to their ecological characteristics, analog forests are also designed to provide economic benefits. However, it is not until all the ecological requirements of the location are satisfied that economic values of species are considered. Therefore, an analog forest may comprise natural and exotic species in any proportion, the contribution to structure and function being the overriding factor that determines its use.
It arose in Sri Lanka around 1981 as an alternative to monocultures of Pinus and Eucalyptus and has spread to India, Vietnam, Philippines, Australia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Canada, Kenya and Zimbabwe at present.
The International Analog Forestry Network (IAFN) is currently hosted in Costa Rica.