Background (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Forestry, considered both a science and an art, has its origins in China, while the Western world formalized the practice of forestry during the Middle Ages. By the sixteenth century, Germany and Japan were leaders in developing systematic forest management, and German foresters established many of the earliest forestry schools in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Royalty often promoted forest management through mapping, harvesting, and reforestation. An example of such early forestry practices was Great Britain’s Broad Arrow Policy of 1691, which required reservation for the navy of all trees on public lands with a diameter of 60 centimeters or greater. These trees were used in large part for building ship masts—one of the significant commercial enterprises that made use of forest products in the seventeenth century.
The German influence was felt in North America by 1898, when German Carl Schenck established one of the first American schools of forestry in North Carolina. The New York State College of Forestry was also established at Cornell University in the same year. Schenck, who initially came to the United States to replace Gifford Pinchot in managing the forests of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, utilized many of the German forestry methods in his education program. Pinchot, who was trained in France, was appointed by President William McKinley as the head of what became known as the United...
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The Beginnings of Forestry (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Initially, forestry involved finding ways to cultivate trees and plant materials quickly because of the depletion of wood products caused by war but also necessitated by the spread of settlements throughout the world. People used wood not only for construction of buildings and fences but also as the main source of energy. Thus, as population increased, the demand for wood products increased. The settlers in the New World began shipping substantial amounts of logs and lumber to the Old World, where many forests had already been depleted, often as a result of practices such as clear-cutting—the cutting of all trees in a stand with little concern for underlying plants, soil, and water resources.
As the population in the United States spread in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries from New England south through the Appalachian forests and west to the forests surrounding the Great Lakes, early settlers practiced little forest management or conservation. Most of the settlers believed there was an endless supply of trees; not until the second half of the nineteenth century did influential politicians and authors begin to advocate for forest management and conservation. However, the United States did little to manage its forests until after many trees had been clear-cut for commercial purposes, including building railroads, and soil had been degraded through erosion.
The scientific methods employed in early...
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Modern Forestry Practices (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Modern forestry not only employs the early scientific methods and management practices but also utilizes many new mechanized and science-based techniques. Today’s foresters use tools such as portable computers to maintain and organize forest inventory databases and to generate financial and harvest-yield models. Forest scientists link computer mapping technologies with satellite resources such as geographic information systems that allow remote sensing. Combining mapping and sensing data allows evaluation of forests, such as insect damage, forest erosion, and potential harvest yields throughout the globe. Global Positioning Systems are also important in pinpointing exact locations of forest resources that may have been identified through aerial photography or remote-sensing technologies.
Today’s forest management also involves specialization. Silviculture is the main specialty that concerns management of forests and their surroundings to establish healthy tree populations and plant materials for commercial harvesting. Silviculturalists develop forest management plans in order to ensure healthy and profitable yields, while recognizing that forests are in constant states of change, which is known as succession. In addition, genetic engineers are conducting global research to improve species that can withstand pests, diseases, and drought in specific geographic areas. Controlled or prescribed forest burning to...
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Commerce vs. Preservation (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Forests have substantial commercial value not only for wood and paper products such as plywood and as a renewable energy source but also for many manufactured products that are derived from trees and plant materials. Many of these manufactured products begin with a wood source that is turned into a useful product through the application of chemicals. These products include rayon, cellophane, adhesives, photo film, paints, household cleaners, baby food, ice cream, cosmetics, and food flavorings. Many pharmaceutical products also come from forest sources. Economics is important in forestry, and foresters must have an understanding of how to ensure that forest products will have sufficient quantity and quality to maintain a profitable business.
Global forestry initiatives have taken place for many years. The World Forestry Congress has met almost every six years since 1926, and the 2009 meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, concerned ways to achieve a balance between preserving tropical rain forests and allowing for development. Moreover, since the 1980’s, many international entities, including the United Nations, the World Bank, and the European Forest Institute, have begun to formulate and implement global conservation-oriented forestry strategies and initiatives.
However, not all of the world leaders agree that conservation is the best policy, as national development varies globally from hunter-gatherer...
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Further Reading (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Achard, Frédéric. Vital Forest Graphics. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme, 2009.
Berger, John J. Forests Forever: Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection. Chicago: Center for American Places, 2008.
Burton, L. DeVere. Introduction to Forestry Science. 2d ed. Clifton Park, N.Y.: Thomson Delmar Learning, 2008.
Dietrich, William. The Final Forest: The Battle for the Last Great Trees of the Pacific Northwest. New York: Penguin, 1993.
Lele, Uma, ed. Managing a Global Resource: Challenges of Forest Conservation and Development. World Bank Series on Management and Development, Volume 5. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 2002.
McEvoy, Thomas J. Positive Impact Forestry: A Sustainable Approach to Managing Woodlands. Covelo, Calif.: Island Press, 2004.
Morsbach, Hans W. Common Sense Forestry. White River Junction, Vt.: Chelsea Green, 2002.
Palo, Matti, and Jussi Uusivuori. World Forests, Society, and Environment. Boston: Kluwer Academic, 1999.
Perry, David A., Ram Oren, and Stephen C. Hart. Forest Ecosystems. 2d ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.
European Forest Institute. http://www.efi.int/portal/
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Forestry Information Centre....
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Forestry (Encyclopedia of Science)
Forestry is usually defined as the science of the harvesting, planting, and tending of trees, primarily in managed forested landscapes. In the first 250 years after Europeans came to North America, little or no effort was made to protect the continent's forest resources. Most people thought they could harvest trees without limit almost anywhere. The vastness of the North American continent gave the impression that an unlimited supply of timber was available.
By the late nineteenth century, however, some individuals saw the foolishness of this philosophy. Vast forest areas in the eastern and midwestern United States had been totally cleared of trees. Similar efforts to cut down and use trees as rapidly as possible were occurring at the nation's last frontier, the Far West. At this point, a movement was initiated to think more carefully about the nation's forest resources. People began to develop plans either to preserve or conserve those resources. Preservation meant protecting forests entirely from human use, while conservation meant using forest resources wisely to ensure that they would be available for future generations. Out of this movement grew the modern science of forestry in the United States.
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