Summary Many well-known methods are available for estimating the number of species in a forest community. However, most existing methods result in considerable negative bias in applications, where field surveys typically represent only a small fraction of sampled communities. This article develops a new method based on sampling with replacement to estimate species richness via the generalized jackknife procedure. The proposed estimator yields small bias and reasonably accurate interval estimation even with small samples. The performance of the proposed estimator is compared with several typical estimators via simulation study using two complete census datasets from Panama and Malaysia.