Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
A Timberjack wheeled harvester stacking cut timber in Finland

Forestry is the science and craft of creating, managing, planting, using, conserving and repairing

stands.[2] The science of forestry has elements that belong to the biological, physical, social, political and managerial sciences.[3] Forest management plays an essential role in the creation and modification of habitats and affects ecosystem services provisioning.[4]

Modern forestry generally embraces a broad range of concerns, in what is known as multiple-use management, including: the provision of


Forest ecosystems have come to be seen as the most important component of the biosphere,[5] and forestry has emerged as a vital applied science, craft, and technology. A practitioner of forestry is known as a forester. Another common term is silviculturist. Silviculture is narrower than forestry, being concerned only with forest plants, but is often used synonymously with forestry.

All people depend upon forests and their biodiversity, some more than others.[6] Forestry is an important economic segment in various industrial countries,[7] as forests provide more than 86 million green jobs and support the livelihoods of many more people.[6] For example, in Germany, forests cover nearly a third of the land area,[8] wood is the most important renewable resource, and forestry supports more than a million jobs and about €181 billion of value to the German economy each year.[9]

Worldwide, an estimated 880 million people spend part of their time collecting fuelwood or producing charcoal, many of them women.[6][quantify] Human populations tend to be low in areas of low-income countries with high forest cover and high forest biodiversity, but poverty rates in these areas tend to be high.[6] Some 252 million people living in forests and savannahs have incomes of less than US$1.25 per day.[6]


Forestry as a science

Over the past centuries, forestry was regarded as a separate science. With the rise of ecology and environmental science, there has been a reordering in the applied sciences. In line with this view, forestry is a primary land-use science comparable with agriculture.[10] Under these headings, the fundamentals behind the management of natural forests comes by way of natural ecology. Forests or tree plantations, those whose primary purpose is the extraction of forest products, are planned and managed to utilize a mix of ecological and agroecological principles.[11] In many regions of the world there is considerable conflict between forest practices and other societal priorities such as water quality, watershed preservation, sustainable fishing, conservation, and species preservation.[12]


Silvology (

Ancient Greek: -λογία, -logia, "science of" or "study of") is the biological science of studying forests and woodlands, incorporating the understanding of natural forest ecosystems, and the effects and development of silvicultural practices. The term complements silviculture, which deals with the art and practice of forest management.[13]

Silvology is seen as a single science for forestry and was first used by Professor Roelof A.A. Oldeman at Wageningen University. [14] It integrates the study of forests and forest ecology, dealing with single tree autecology and natural forest ecology.


The Amazon rainforest alongside the Solimões River, a tropical rainforest. These forests are the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems in the world.


Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA 2020) found that forests covered 4.06 billion hectares (10.0 billion acres; 40.6 million square kilometres; 15.7 million square miles), or approximately 31 percent of the world's land area in 2020.[20]

Forests are the largest terrestrial

Forests account for 75% of the

Forests form distinctly different biomes at different latitudes and elevations, and with different precipitation and evapotranspiration rates.[23] These biomes include boreal forests in subarctic climates, tropical moist forests and tropical dry forests around the Equator, and temperate forests at the middle latitudes. Forests form in areas of the Earth with high rainfall, while drier conditions produce a transition to savanna. However, in areas with intermediate rainfall levels, forest transitions to savanna rapidly when the percentage of land that is covered by trees drops below 40 to 45 percent.[24] Research conducted in the Amazon rainforest shows that trees can alter rainfall rates across a region, releasing water from their leaves in anticipation of seasonal rains to trigger the wet season early. Because of this, seasonal rainfall in the Amazon begins two to three months earlier than the climate would otherwise allow.[25][26] Deforestation in the Amazon and anthropogenic climate change hold the potential to interfere with this process, causing the forest to pass a threshold where it transitions into savanna.[27]

soy, and palm oil.[28] Over the past 2,000 years, the area of land covered by forest in Europe has been reduced from 80% to 34%. Large areas of forest have also been cleared in China and in the eastern United States,[29] in which only 0.1% of land was left undisturbed.[30] Almost half of Earth's forest area (49 percent) is relatively intact, while 9 percent is found in fragments with little or no connectivity. Tropical rainforests and boreal coniferous forests are the least fragmented, whereas subtropical dry forests and temperate oceanic forests are among the most fragmented. Roughly 80 percent of the world's forest area is found in patches larger than 1 million hectares (2.5 million acres). The remaining 20 percent is located in more than 34 million patches around the world – the vast majority less than 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) in size.[22]

Human society and forests can affect one another positively or negatively.
ecosystem services to humans and serve as tourist attractions. Forests can also affect people's health. Human activities, including unsustainable use of forest resources, can negatively affect forest ecosystems.[32]


Valdivian forests of San Pablo de Tregua, Chile

Foresters work for the

landowners. The forestry profession includes a wide diversity of jobs, with educational requirements ranging from college bachelor's degrees to PhDs for highly specialized work. Industrial foresters plan forest regeneration starting with careful harvesting. Urban foresters manage trees in urban green spaces. Foresters work in tree nurseries growing seedlings for woodland creation or regeneration projects. Foresters improve tree genetics
. Forest engineers develop new building systems. Professional foresters
geographic information systems. Foresters may combat insect infestation, disease, forest and grassland wildfire, but increasingly allow these natural aspects of forest ecosystems to run their course when the likelihood of epidemics or risk of life or property are low. Increasingly, foresters participate in wildlife conservation planning and watershed protection. Foresters have been mainly concerned with timber management, especially reforestation, forests at prime conditions, and fire control.[33]


Leaf shape is a common method used to identify trees.

woody plants (trees, shrubs, and lianas), specifically, their taxonomic classifications.[34] There is no sharp boundary between plant taxonomy and dendrology; woody plants not only belong to many different plant families, but these families may be made up of both woody and non-woody members. Some families include only a few woody species. Dendrology, as a discipline of industrial forestry, tends to focus on identification of economically useful woody plants and their taxonomic interrelationships. As an academic course of study, dendrology will include all woody plants, native and non-native, that occur in a region. A related discipline is the study of sylvics, which focuses on the autecology of genera
and species.

In the past, dendrology included the study of the natural history of woody species in specific regions, but this aspect is now considered part of
ecology. The field also plays a role in conserving rare or endangered species.[34]

Forest ecology

The Daintree Rainforest in Queensland, Australia
abiotic) factors of the environment.[36]

Forests have an enormously important role to play in the global ecosystem. Forests produce approximately 28% of the Earth's oxygen (the vast majority being created by oceanic plankton),[37] they also serve as homes for millions of people, and billions depend on forests in some way. Likewise, a large proportion of the world's animal species live in forests. Forests are also used for economic purposes such as fuel and wood products. Forest ecology therefore has a great impact upon the whole biosphere and human activities that are sustained by it.[38]


Redwood tree in northern California forest, where many trees are managed for preservation and longevity

Forests are studied at a number of organisational levels, from the individual

nutrients, are also crucial components.[39]

Forest ecology shares characteristics and methodological approaches with other areas of terrestrial plant ecology, however, the presence of trees makes forest ecosystems and their study unique in numerous ways due to the potential for a wide variety of forest structures created by the uniquely large size and height of trees compared with other terrestrial plants.[citation needed]

Forest pathology

insect vectors.[40][41] It is a subfield of forestry and plant pathology

Forest pathology is part of the broader approach of forest protection.

Insects, diseases and severe weather events damaged about 40 million ha of forests in 2015, mainly in the temperate and boreal domains.[42]

Forest management

forest resource values.[43] Management objectives can be for conservation, utilisation, or a mixture of the two. Techniques include timber extraction, planting and replanting of different species, building and maintenance of roads and pathways through forests, and preventing fire

Many tools like remote sensing,
GIS and photogrammetry[44][45] modelling have been developed to improve forest inventory and management planning.[46] Since 1953, the volume of standing trees in the United States has increased by 90% due to sustainable forest management.[47]

Forest management planning

Foresters develop and implement forest management plans relying on mapped resources, inventories showing an area's topographical features as well as its distribution of trees (by species) and other plant covers. Plans also include landowner objectives, roads, culverts, proximity to human habitation, water features and hydrological conditions, and soil information. Forest management plans typically include recommended silvicultural treatments and a timetable for their implementation. Application of digital maps in Geographic Information systems (GIS) that extracts and integrates different information about forest terrains, soil type and tree covers, etc. using, e.g. laser scanning enhances forest management plans in modern systems.[48]

Forest management plans include recommendations to achieve the landowner's objectives and desired future conditions for the property subject to ecological, financial, logistical (e.g. access to resources), and other constraints. On some properties, plans focus on producing quality wood products for processing or sale. Hence, tree species, quantity, and form, all central to the value of harvested products quality and quantity, tend to be important components of silvicultural plans.

Good management plans include consideration of future conditions of the stand after any recommended harvests treatments, including future treatments (particularly in intermediate stand treatments), and plans for natural or artificial regeneration after final harvests.

The objectives of

landowners and leaseholders influence plans for harvest and subsequent site treatment. In Britain, plans featuring "good forestry practice" must always consider the needs of other stakeholders such as nearby communities or rural residents living within or adjacent to woodland areas. Foresters consider tree felling and environmental legislation when developing plans. Plans instruct the sustainable harvesting and replacement of trees.[49]
They indicate whether road building or other forest engineering operations are required.

Agriculture and forest leaders are also trying to understand how the climate change legislation will affect what they do. The information gathered will provide the data that will determine the role of agriculture and forestry in a new climate change regulatory system.[50]

Forest and landscape restoration

Forest and landscape restoration (FLR) is defined as a process that aims to regain ecological functionality and enhance human well-being in deforested or degraded landscapes.

declined biodiversity and ecosystem services.[51] Effective FLR will support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.[51] The United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030) provides the opportunity to restore hundreds of millions of hectares of degraded forests and other ecosystems.[51]

Genetic diversity in forestry

The provenance of forest reproductive material used to plant forests has a great influence on how the trees develop, hence why it is important to use forest reproductive material of good quality and of high genetic diversity.[52] More generally, all forest management practices, including in natural regeneration systems, may impact the genetic diversity of trees.

The term genetic diversity describes the differences in

DNA sequence between individuals as distinct from variation caused by environmental influences. The unique genetic composition of an individual (its genotype) will determine its performance (its phenotype) at a particular site.[53]

Genetic diversity is needed to maintain the vitality of forests and to provide resilience to pests and diseases. Genetic diversity also ensures that forest trees can survive, adapt and evolve under changing environmental conditions. Furthermore, genetic diversity is the foundation of biological diversity at species and ecosystem levels. Forest genetic resources are therefore important to consider in forest management.[52]

Genetic diversity in

forest fires, pests and diseases, habitat fragmentation
, poor silvicultural practices and inappropriate use of forest reproductive material.

About 98 million hectares of forest were affected by fire in 2015; this was mainly in the tropical domain, where fire burned about 4 percent of the total forest area in that year. More than two-thirds of the total forest area affected was in Africa and South America. Insects, diseases and severe weather events damaged about 40 million hectares of forests in 2015, mainly in the temperate and boreal domains.[54]

Furthermore, the marginal populations of many tree species are facing new threats due to the effects of climate change.[52]

Most countries in Europe have recommendations or guidelines for selecting species and provenances that can be used in a given site or zone.[53]

Urban forestry

Tree pruning in Durham, North Carolina
Professional Tree Climber (arborist: Zack Weiler) climbing a willow tree in Port Elgin, ON. Canada
James Kinder, an ISA Certified Municipal Arborist examining a Japanese Hemlock at Hoyt Arboretum
city planners
, consultants, educators, researchers and community activists.

Forestry education

History of forestry education

The first dedicated forestry school was established by Georg Ludwig Hartig at Hungen in the Wetterau, Hesse, in 1787, though forestry had been taught earlier in central Europe, including at the University of Giessen, in Hesse-Darmstadt.

In Spain, the first forestry school was the Forest Engineering School of Madrid (

Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros de Montes
), founded in 1844.

The first in North America, the

Asheville, North Carolina, by Carl A. Schenck on September 1, 1898, on the grounds of George W. Vanderbilt's Biltmore Estate. Another early school was the New York State College of Forestry, established at Cornell University
just a few weeks later, in September 1898.

Early 19th century North American foresters went to Germany to study forestry. Some early German foresters also emigrated to North America.

In South America the first forestry school was established in Brazil, in Viçosa, Minas Gerais, in 1962, and moved the next year to become a faculty at the Federal University of Paraná, in Curitiba.[56]

Forestry education today

Prescribed burning
is used by foresters to reduce fuel loads.

Today, forestry education typically includes training in general biology, ecology, botany, genetics, soil science, climatology, hydrology, economics and forest management. Education in the basics of sociology and political science is often considered an advantage. Professional skills in conflict resolution and communication are also important in training programs.[57]

In India, forestry education is imparted in the agricultural universities and in Forest Research Institutes (deemed universities). Four year degree programmes are conducted in these universities at the undergraduate level. Masters and Doctorate degrees are also available in these universities.

In the United States, postsecondary forestry education leading to a Bachelor's degree or Master's degree is accredited by the Society of American Foresters.[58]

In Canada the Canadian Institute of Forestry awards silver rings to graduates from accredited university BSc programs, as well as college and technical programs.[59]

In many European countries, training in forestry is made in accordance with requirements of the Bologna Process and the European Higher Education Area.

The International Union of Forest Research Organizations is the only international organization that coordinates forest science efforts worldwide.[60]

Continuing education

In order to keep up with changing demands and environmental factors, forestry education does not stop at graduation. Increasingly, forestry professionals engage in regular training to maintain and improve on their management practices. An increasingly popular tool are marteloscopes; one hectare large, rectangular forest sites where all trees are numbered, mapped and recorded.

These sites can be used to do virtual thinnings and test one's wood quality and volume estimations as well as tree microhabitats. This system is mainly suitable to regions with small-scale multi-functional forest management systems


The preindustrial age has been dubbed by Werner Sombart and others as the 'wooden age', as timber and firewood were the basic resources for energy, construction and housing. The development of modern forestry is closely connected with the rise of capitalism, the economy as a science and varying notions of land use and property.[61] Roman

Adriatic coast, were able to establish stone pine plantations to provide fuelwood and food.[63] This was the beginning of the massive forest mentioned by Dante Alighieri in his 1308 poem Divine Comedy.[63]

Similar sustainable formal forestry practices were developed by the Visigoths in the 7th century when, faced with the ever-increasing shortage of wood, they instituted a code concerned with the preservation of oak and pine forests.[63] The use and management of many forest resources has a long history in China as well, dating back to the Han dynasty and taking place under the landowning gentry. A similar approach was used in Japan. It was also later written about by the Ming dynasty Chinese scholar Xu Guangqi (1562–1633).

In Europe, land usage rights in medieval and early modern times allowed different users to access forests and pastures.

caulking of ships, falking and hunting rights, firewood and building, timber gathering in wood pastures, and grazing animals in forests. The notion of "commons" (German "Allmende") refers to the underlying traditional legal term of common land. The idea of enclosed private property came about during modern times. However, most hunting rights were retained by members of the nobility which preserved the right of the nobility to access and use common land for recreation, like fox hunting

Early modern forestry development

Forestry work in Austria
Hans Carl von Carlowitz, German miner

Systematic management of forests for a

King Denis of Portugal continued the practice and the forest exists still today.[65]

Forest management also flourished in the German states in the 14th century, e.g. in Nuremberg,[66] and in 16th-century Japan.[67] Typically, a forest was divided into specific sections and mapped; the harvest of timber was planned with an eye to regeneration. As timber rafting allowed for connecting large continental forests, as in south western Germany, via Main, Neckar, Danube and Rhine with the coastal cities and states, early modern forestry and remote trading were closely connected. Large firs in the black forest were called „Holländer“, as they were traded to the Dutch ship yards. Large timber rafts on the Rhine were 200 to 400m in length, 40m in width and consisted of several thousand logs. The crew consisted of 400 to 500 men, including shelter, bakeries, ovens and livestock stables.[68] Timber rafting infrastructure allowed for large interconnected networks all over continental Europe and is still of importance in Finland.

Starting with the 16th century, enhanced world

maritime trade, a boom in housing construction in Europe, and the success and further Berggeschrey (rushes) of the mining industry increased timber consumption sharply. The notion of 'Nachhaltigkeit', sustainability in forestry, is closely connected to the work of Hans Carl von Carlowitz (1645–1714), a mining administrator in Saxony. His book Sylvicultura oeconomica, oder haußwirthliche Nachricht und Naturmäßige Anweisung zur wilden Baum-Zucht (1713) was the first comprehensive treatise about sustainable yield forestry.[69] In the UK, and, to an extent, in continental Europe, the enclosure movement and the Clearances favored strictly enclosed private property.[70] The Agrarian reformers, early economic writers and scientists tried to get rid of the traditional commons.[71] At the time, an alleged tragedy of the commons together with fears of a Holznot, an imminent wood shortage played a watershed role in the controversies about cooperative land use patterns.[72]

The practice of establishing tree plantations in the

Louis XIV's minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert's oak Forest of Tronçais, planted for the future use of the French Navy, matured as expected in the mid-19th century: "Colbert had thought of everything except the steamship," Fernand Braudel observed.[73] Colbert's vision of forestry management was encoded in the French forestry Ordinance of 1669, which proved to be an influential management system throughout Europe.[74] In parallel, schools of forestry were established beginning in the late 18th century in Hesse, Russia, Austria-Hungary, Sweden, France
and elsewhere in Europe.


Forestry mechanization was always in close connection to metal working and the development of mechanical tools to cut and transport timber to its destination.[75] Rafting belongs to the earliest means of transport. Steel saws came up in the 15th century. The 19th century widely increased the availability of steel for whipsaws and introduced forest railways and railways in general for transport and as forestry customer. Further human induced changes, however, came since World War II, respectively in line with the "1950s syndrome".[76] The first portable chainsaw was invented in 1918 in Canada, but large impact of mechanization in forestry started after World War II.[77] Forestry harvesters are among the most recent developments. Although drones, planes, laser scanning, satellites and robots also play a part in forestry.

Forest conservation and early globalization

Starting from the 1750s modern scientific forestry was developed in France and the German speaking countries in the context of natural history scholarship and state administration inspired by physiocracy and cameralism.[78] Its main traits were centralized management by professional foresters, the adherence to sustainable yield concepts with a bias towards fuelwood and timber production, artificial afforestation, and a critical view of pastoral and agricultural uses of forests.[79]

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, forest preservation programs were established in

British India, the United States, and Europe. Many foresters were either from continental Europe (like Sir Dietrich Brandis), or educated there (like Gifford Pinchot). Sir Dietrich Brandis is considered the father of tropical forestry, European concepts and practices had to be adapted in tropical and semi-arid climate zones. The development of plantation forestry was one of the (controversial) answers to the specific challenges in the tropical colonies. The enactment and evolution of forest laws and binding regulations occurred in most Western nations in the 20th century in response to growing conservation concerns and the increasing technological capacity of logging companies. Tropical forestry is a separate branch of forestry which deals mainly with equatorial forests that yield woods such as teak and mahogany

Forestry in the 21st century

A strong body of

timber. One of the applications of modern forestry is reforestation
, in which trees are planted and tended in a given area.

  • A deciduous beech forest in Slovenia
    A deciduous beech forest in Slovenia
  • A modern sawmill
    A modern sawmill
  • A comparison of employment In agriculture, forestry and fishing by region
    A comparison of employment In agriculture, forestry and fishing by region

Trees provide numerous environmental, social and economic benefits for people.

developed world. Sustainable forestry operations must also adhere to the International Labour Organization's 18 criteria on human and social rights. Gender equality, health and well-being and community consultation are examples of mentioned rights.[82][83]

In topographically severe forested terrain, proper forestry is important for the prevention or minimization of serious soil erosion or even landslides. In areas with a high potential for landslides, forests can stabilize soils and prevent property damage or loss, human injury, or loss of life.

Global production of roundwood rose from 3.5 billion m³ in 2000 to 4 billion m³ in 2021. In 2021, wood fuel was the main product with a 49 percent share of the total (2 billion m³), followed by coniferous industrial roundwood with 30 percent (1.2 billion m³) and non-coniferous industrial roundwood with 21 percent (0.9 billion m³). Asia and the Americas are the two main producing regions, accounting for 29 and 28 percent of the total roundwood production, respectively; Africa and Europe have similar shares of 20–21 percent, while Oceania produces the remaining 2 percent.[84]

Many lower- and middle-income countries rely on wood for energy purposes (notably cooking). The largest producers are all in these income groups and have large populations with a high reliance on wood for energy: in 2021, India ranked first with 300 million m³ (15 percent of total production), followed by China with 156 million m3 and Brazil with 129 million m³ (8 percent and 7 percent of global production).[84]


See also

Forestry research and education

Noted silvologists


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 This article incorporates text from a free content work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (license statement/permission). Text taken from Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 Key findings​, FAO, FAO.

 This article incorporates text from a free content work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO (license statement/permission). Text taken from The State of the World's Forests 2020. Forests, biodiversity and people – In brief​, FAO & UNEP, FAO & UNEP.

 This article incorporates text from a free content work. Licensed under CC BY-SA IGO 3.0 (license statement/permission). Text taken from World Food and Agriculture – Statistical Yearbook 2023​, FAO, FAO.

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