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Forestry

FORESTRY

FORESTRY. Forestry is the scientific management of forests for the production of lumber and other resources. Although concern about the depletion of forest resources dates back to the colonial period, it was not until the 1890s that forestry came into its own in the United States. The development of the science of silviculture (tree growing) in Europe, widespread fears of unsustainable cutting of forests, and the expansion of the powers of the federal government allowed for professional foresters to seek, and in some ways to gain, significant influence over the nation's woodlands.

Gifford Pinchot exercised enormous influence over the early development of American forestry. Born into a prosperous Connecticut family and educated at Yale, Pinchot attended forestry school in Nancy, France, because there were no such institutions in the United States. He had difficulty securing employment as a professional forester upon his return in the 1890s, and took a job managing the forests of Biltmore, the Vanderbilt family's large estate in North Carolina. Soon enough, however, the federal government had need of Pinchot's expertise. In the Forest Reserve Act of 1891, Congress authorized presidents to set aside forested lands for protection from over-grazing and logging. In 1891–1892, President Benjamin Harrison set aside 16 million acres, and President Grover Cleveland added 21 million acres to the reserves. The National Forest Management Act of 1897 charged the government to "protect and preserve" forests to ensure predictable supplies of timber and water. A year later the Cornell and Biltmore forestry schools were established, and Pinchot became head of the Division of Forestry in the Department of Agriculture. His influence only grew during the presidency of his friend Theodore Roosevelt. In 1905, Roosevelt replaced the Division of Forestry with the United States Forest Service, also located in the Agriculture Department. Pinchot served as its head until 1910, overseeing its dramatic expansion to some 175 million acres from only 51 million at the opening of the decade.

For Pinchot and his fellow conservationists, forestry was the centerpiece of conservation, the development of natural resources to bring, as Pinchot famously put it, "greatest good to the greatest number for the longest time." Professionally trained foresters, backed by the power of the federal government, would ensure that the nation's timber and watersheds were protected from rapacious, wasteful, and monopolistic private industry as well as from corrupt political interests. Nationalism suffused this marriage of scientific expertise and federal power. As Pinchot wrote in 1900 when he persuaded his family to found the Yale School of Forestry, "What we wanted was American foresters trained by Americans in American ways for the work ahead in American forests." Forestry was as much a crusade as a scientific discipline.

Early Conservationists

If the establishment of forestry schools and the federal public lands bureaucracies signaled that forestry had come into its own, then at the same time Progressives such as Pinchot built on an older legacy of concern with forested lands. As the rapid cutting of eastern forests that began in the colonial period continued in the early Republic,

some began to forecast a national timber shortage. In James Fenimore Cooper's 1823 novel, The Pioneers, for example, one character warns of "felling the forests as if no end could be found to their treasures, nor any limits to their extent. If we go on this way, twenty years hence we shall want fuel." Foreign travelers and some domestic journalists reported exceptionally high firewood prices and the difficulty of locating timber for building construction in the urbanized Northeast. Such warnings began to influence policymakers. The 1865 annual report of the federal agriculture commissioner cast deforestation as "an impending national danger, beyond the power of figures to estimate, and beyond the province of words to express." In 1877 the secretary of the interior Carl Schurz presaged later conservation measures by calling for the establishment of federally owned forests to relieve what he thought was an impending wood shortage. Three years later, the census surveyed national forest resources for the first time.

George Perkins Marsh catalyzed this growing concern, helping to pave the way for the subsequent rise of a conservation movement. A peripatetic schoolteacher, newspaperman, and lawyer early in life, Marsh served as a Whig U.S. representative from Vermont. In 1849, President Zachary Taylor appointed him minister to Turkey and twelve years later President Abraham Lincoln chose him as minister to Italy. Struck by the contrast between classical accounts of a heavily wooded and very fertile Mediterranean and the unproductive and scrubby grasslands that he encountered, Marsh became convinced that the region was heir to an environmental catastrophe. In 1864 he published Man and Nature, where he used the story of Mediterranean deforestation to warn that what happened in Europe could happen in the United States as well.

Marsh deeply shaped the creation of American forestry not only because he made already familiar predictions of timber shortage, but also because he gave them an apocalyptic cast and offered a well-articulated solution. Deforestation, he warned, was not a simple matter of resource scarcity, but risked causing the collapse and disappearance of entire civilizations, as had happened with classical Greece and Rome. "The earth is fast becoming an unfit home for its noblest inhabitant," he wrote, and "another era of equal human improvidence would reduce it to such a condition of shattered surface as to threaten barbarism and perhaps even the extinction of the species." Man and Nature presented the state control of forests as a solution to this prospective disaster. While individual owners were motivated by short-term gain, as Marsh insisted in long passages detailing the "improvident habits of the backwoodsman," the government could deploy scientific knowledge in the best long-term interests of the nation. Although the existence of large tracts of federal

and state-owned lands came to seem commonplace in the twentieth century, at the time Marsh's proposal was truly radical. American land policy, epitomized in the Homestead Act of 1862, was still designed to convert all of the public domain into private property holdings for the burgeoning nation and its land-hungry farmers.

Early Twentieth-Century Foresters

The first generation of American foresters responded to these early nineteenth-century warnings and embodied Marsh's call for the deployment of scientific expertise to regulate the chaos of the private sector. Progressive Era foresters, however, operated with much greater confidence and ambition than did their predecessors. Where Marsh warned, for example, that "Man is everywhere a disturbing agent… wherever he plants his foot, the harmonies of nature are turned to discords," Pinchot breezily asserted that "the first duty of the human race …is to control the use of the earth and all that therein is." Where the earlier writers had hoped to avoid crippling timber shortages and the catastrophe of mass deforestation, early twentieth-century foresters saw themselves as contributing to the United States's position as an industrial power of global proportions.

The outlook of Pinchot and his peers had important and lasting practical implications for subsequent forestry and federal lands management. Above all, they insisted that economic productivity was the leading purpose of foresters and the national forests. The forests were an essential part of a modern economy in which each segment of society performed a specialized role. As one typical forest administrator stated in 1911:

The radiating influence of the standing forests is repeated when they are cut and utilized. The producers of the raw materials which supply the factories, which sell to the wholesalers, distributing to the retailers, who sell their wares to the wage-earners in forest and mill—are, with their employees, and the lumber companies and their employees, all more or less dependent upon the forests.

Accordingly, although more romantic thinkers such as the naturalist and author John Muir hoped that the expanding federal land system would protect distinctive landscapes as scenic refuges from an increasingly artificial urban life, Pinchot and his peers subordinated such goals to the provision of timber and reliable water supplies. Thus, in the early 1900s, Pinchot sided with the city of San Francisco in its fight to make a reservoir of the Hetch Hetchy Valley, previously part of Yellowstone National Park. Early forest managers also sought to curtail the extensive subsistence practices of those who lived near federal lands, devoting significant resources to ending illegal hunting and "timber poaching" for fear that they interfered with their mission to make the forests pay.


The foresters' belief in state-led economic modernization led them to practice a highly interventionist form of land management. They sought to increase dramatically the rate of timber harvest, not only because the nation needed more wood products, but also because scientific forestry seemed to demand younger forests. Older forests, which dominated the heavily timbered West, lost more wood to tree death, insect infestation, and fires than they gained from new growth. Extensive cutting of old growth would thus replace "decadent" or "overmature" forests with younger woods, ensuring that they created more new annual growth than they lost. The net growth could be harvested each year without diminishing the total amount of forest resources. If done properly, heavy cutting could thus best serve Pinchot's dictum that natural resources must produce "the greatest good to the greatest number for the longest time."

Fighting fire was another important part of securing maximum forest productivity. Just as the federal government gave professional foresters substantial control over the nation's forested lands for the first time, a series of tremendous fires swept through them. Increased Euro-American settlement of the heavily forested portions of the West and Midwest and extensive logging, which left behind large amounts of extremely flammable downed trees, caused a rapid increase in forest fires in the early twentieth century. In 1910, the worse year, fire consumed more than five million acres of national forest, killing seventy-eight firefighters in the process. These fires not only took lives, destroyed entire towns, and reduced millions of potentially valuable trees, but they also seemed to threaten the Forest Service itself. What good did it do to turn over the nation's woods to professional foresters if they were just going to go up in smoke? Suppressing fires thus became one of the Forest Service's primary goals, and indeed many of the early reports of national forest supervisors were devoted almost entirely to fire control. Foresters' insistence that fires were unnatural events caused by human carelessness seemed to be borne out by their remarkable achievements in reducing the instance of forest fires. By 1935 fewer than 300,000 acres burned annually, and by 1980 the territory that regularly burned had been reduced by 95 percent. The Forest Service extended its fire fighting to most of the nation's private lands as well, beginning with a 1927 decision to withhold funds from states that failed to cooperate with the service's measures.

The Depression, World War II, and the Postwar Era

Just as the Progressive Era provided the opportunity for the creation of professional forestry, the New Deal created public works programs that expanded the reach of forestry. Nearly half of those employed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, created in 1933 to provide jobs in conservation projects, worked in reforestation and forest protection projects. Some programs of other New Deal agencies, such as the Soil Conservation Service, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the National Recovery Administration, also stressed reforestation as part of the nation's recovery effort. In response to the Dust Bowl, nearly 217 million trees were planted under the auspices of the Prairie States Forestry Project. Foresters also intensified their fire fighting program and enjoyed greater success in extending it to lands not encompassed by the national forests. In 1935 the head of the Forest Service felt confident enough to promulgate the "10 a.m. Policy," which declared that all fires should be brought under control by ten in the morning of the day following their initial discovery. Smokey Bear, the government's ubiquitous antifire mascot, was introduced to the public in 1945.

The production demands of World War II and the postwar economic boom led to a much more vigorous implementation of foresters' long-standing management goals. Declining timber yields from private forest lands in the face of the nation's incredible economic growth prompted the Forest Service to increase massively its cutting levels. In 1944 the service contracted for 3.3 billion board feet (the standard measure of timber harvest, one square foot of wood an inch thick) to be cut from its lands, a more than threefold increase over traditional levels. By 1966 the annual cut had reached 12.1 billion board feet. From 1950 to 1966 twice as much timber was cut from national forests as had been from 1905 to 1949. Clear-cutting, the cutting of all trees in a given area, replaced more selective harvesting techniques, despite the Forest Service's previous vehement criticism of the practice. The roads built to enable high harvest levels—some 310,000 miles of actively maintained roadways by the end of the twentieth century—made the United States Forest Service the owner and manager of the largest road system in the world.

At the same time, however, important changes in postwar America created deep conflicts over the meaning and purposes of forestry. The construction of the inter-state highway system and economic prosperity allowed for the development of a truly mass outdoor tourism. Drawn by lures as diverse as skiing, car camping, wilderness backpacking, hunting, and fishing, millions of tourists flocked to the national forests. By 1976, recreational visits to the forests had increased nearly twentyfold from prewar levels. For the first time, millions of ordinary Americans had direct experiences with the nation's forests and felt that they had a personal stake in their future management. Many of these tourists were displeased by what they considered unsightly roads and clear-cuts. The Forest Service acknowledged these changes and cooperated in the passage of the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960, which gave official sanction to outdoor recreation as a management goal for the first time. But growing public environmental sentiment still conflicted with intensive timber harvesting.

The Late Twentieth Century: Ecological Forestry

Other problems challenged the traditional emphasis of foresters on intensive management. In some forests, fire suppression and extensive harvesting led to dramatic shifts in the relative abundance of tree species. Often the large expanses of even-aged trees produced by clear-cutting were more vulnerable to disease and insect infestation than were the previous multi-aged stands. After decades of relative success, fire suppression struck its critics as not only ecologically suspect but also as ineffective in preventing fires. Before the full implementation of fire suppression, wildfires were frequent but generally smaller affairs that left many of the older trees alive. By the 1980s and 1990s, however, the heavy accumulations of highly flammable dead and down woods helped to create massive conflagrations that killed almost all plants in their paths. Even enormous efforts to stop and put out fires, as in a large 1988 blaze in Yellowstone National Park, could fail. In 1992 the federal government spent nearly $11 billion to suppress forest fires across the country, losing thirty-two firefighters in the process. Gifford Pinchot's confidence that "forest fires are wholly within the control of men" was in shambles.

By the 1980s, some foresters responded to these developments by articulating a different vision of the purposes


and techniques of their discipline. As articulated by the ecologist Jerry F. Franklin, the New Forestry asserted the need to manage land to preserve biodiversity and complex ecosystems rather than to maximize timber production. From this perspective, forestry was more the respectful emulation of natural patterns than the application of scientific expertise to ensure economic efficiency. The training of foresters began to incorporate these new views. By the 1990s, the science of ecology had come to replace silviculture as the bedrock of the profession at many forestry schools. Within the Forest Service, advocates of this shift in management formed the Association of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics in 1989. Although the organization remained a dissident group within the bureaucracy, the Forest Service as a whole responded to the ecological critique of traditional forestry, shifting some of its resources away from timber production and toward recreation and habitat protection. In 1995, in a clear reversal of the thrust of a century of policy, the Department of Agriculture and the Interior Department announced their intention to let more wild-fires burn and even actively to restore small-scale fires to some regions.

At the end of the twentieth century, the forests covered nearly one-third of the nation's land area. Dominant tree species varied significantly by region. Douglas fir dominated the western portions of Washington and Oregon, joined by redwoods and mixed coniferous forests in California. East of these coastal woods, ponderosa pine, white pine, larch, lodgepole pine, fir, and spruce were the most heavily represented species. Hardwoods and pine are the most common trees in the generally open Plains states. The pine-dominated South was separated from the maple, birch, and beech forests of the Northeast by a large belt of oak and hickory. Alaska contained huge expanses of birch and coniferous woods.

In the year 2000, the national forests comprised 191 million acres, about one-tenth of the nation's surface. These forests never produced more than one-fifth of the nation's timber production. Some 393 million acres of forests were owned by the private sector, fully 232 million of them in individual hands. Corporations owned just over 100 million acres of forests. Although professional forestry has been closely associated with the public lands systems, private forest lands may become the object of similar debates over the purposes and techniques of the discipline.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cox, Thomas R. This Well-Wooded Land: Americans and Their Forests from Colonial Times to the Present. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1985.

Hirt, Paul. A Conspiracy of Optimism: Management of the National Forests Since World War Two. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994.

Jacoby, Karl. Crimes Against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

Langston, Nancy. Forest Dreams, Forest Nightmares: The Paradox of Old Growth in the Inland West. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995.

Lowenthal, David. George Perkins Marsh: Prophet of Conservation. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000.

Miller, Char, ed. American Forests: Nature, Culture, and Politics. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1997.

Pinchot, Gifford. The Fight for Conservation. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1910.

Pyne, Stephen J. Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1982.

Robbins, William G. American Forestry: A History of National, State, and Private Cooperation. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1985.

Wilkinson, Charles F. Crossing the Next Meridian: Land, Water, and the Future of the West. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1992.

Benjamin H.Johnson

See alsoAgriculture, Department of ; Conservation ; Lumber Industry ; National Park System .

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Forestry

Forestry

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.

Words to Know

Clear-cutting: A forest harvesting system that involves the cutting of all trees of economic value in a given area at the same time.

Conservation: The act of using natural resources in a way that ensures that they will be available to future generations.

Forest harvesting: Methods used to cut and remove trees from the forest.

Game animal: An animal that is hunted for food or recreational purposes.

Herbicide: Any chemical that kills plants.

Natural regeneration: A method of growth in which foresters rely largely on natural processes for trees to regrow in an area.

Prescribed burn: The controlled burning of vegetation in an area to achieve some effect.

Preservation: The act of protecting a natural resource from any human use.

Regeneration: The process by which the trees in a forest ecosystem are restored over time.

Selection-tree system: A forest management system in which some of the larger individual trees of a desired species in an area are harvested every ten or more years.

Shelter-wood cutting: A forest management technique in which certain large trees are left behind in an area that is otherwise cut.

Silviculture: The branch of forestry that is concerned with the cultivation of trees.

Strip-cutting: A forest management system in which long and narrow clear-cuts are made, with alternating uncut strips of forest left between.

Forestry and agriculture

In many respects, forestry is similar to agricultural science, and foresters are comparable to farmers. Forestry and agriculture both deal with the harvesting and management of ecological systems. Both fields also look for ways to make the best possible use of land to produce valuable products. However, some important differences between the two fields exist. In the first place, agriculture deals with a greater variety of species and products, while forestry deals essentially with one species: trees. In addition, farmers deal with a wider range of harvesting and management systems, most of which are much more intensive than in forestry. Finally, agriculture involves relatively short harvesting rotations, with most crops being planted and harvested once a year. Still, the goals of forestry and agriculture are very much alike: harvesting and managing crops to produce ongoing yields of organic products that are required by society.

Another shared feature of forestry and agriculture is that both substantially deteriorate the original ecosystems of the area. For example, populations of many native species of plants and animals may be reduced, threatened, or even eliminated. The soil is often eroded, the environment may become contaminated with pesticides and fertilizers, and the beauty of the landscape may be degraded. One of the most important challenges to both forestry and agriculture is to achieve their primary goals of maintaining harvests while keeping the environmental damage within acceptable limits.

Goals of forest management

Forests are important for a number of reasons. They are used to provide a vast array of products that include lumber, plywood, pulp and paper, and other wood products. Many fish (particularly salmon) and furbearing animal species (marten, fisher, and beaver) that live in forested lands are valuable commodities. Forests are home to species of game animals such as deer, rabbits, and quails that are hunted for food and for recreational purposes. But the great majority of the species of forested landscapes are nongame animals which, though not economically important, are nonetheless valuable.

Forests also provide people with recreation: bird watching and other wildlife observation, hiking, and cross-country skiing. And many people enjoy forests simply for their great beauty. Forests also play a vital role in the ecology of the planet. In addition to preventing erosion and helping to maintain the water cycle, these stands of trees provide atmospheric oxygen.

Highly publicized, intense debates rage as to the best possible uses of forest resources. For instance, in North America there are concerns about the negative effects of forestry on endangered species, such as the spotted owl and red-cockaded woodpecker, and on endangered ecosystems, such as old-growth forests. In a few cases, these concerns have been addressed by declaring large tracts of natural forests to be off limits to commercial harvesting of timber. In general, however, logging industry interests are seen as having a higher value to society.

Harvesting and management

There are a number of methods used to cut and remove trees from the forests. Forest harvesting methods vary greatly in their intensity. Clear-cutting is the most intensive system, involving the harvest of all trees of economic value at the same time. The areas of clear-cuts can vary greatly, from cuts smaller than a hectare in size to enormous harvests thousands of hectares in area.

Strip-cutting is a system in which long and narrow clear-cuts are made, with alternating uncut strips of forest left between. One advantage of strip-cutting is seeds from uncut trees fall into the harvested strips, and new trees soon begin to grow there.

Shelter-wood cutting is a technique in which certain large trees are left behind in an area that is otherwise cut. The large trees produce seeds from which the next generation of trees will be born. In addition, the large trees will be even larger at the time of the next cutting in the area.

The least intensive method of harvesting is the selection-tree system. In this system, some of the larger individual trees of a desired species are harvested every ten or more years. The forest overall, however, is always left essentially intact.

Regeneration. Forest management involves decisions not only as to how trees are to be harvested, but how the forest is to be regenerated. Ideally, one might hope that a new tree grows in an area for every older tree that was taken out. One method for dealing with this problem is natural regeneration. Natural regeneration refers to the practice of simply allowing a forested area to grow back on its own, once trees have been harvested. Natural regeneration can be aided by humans in a number of ways, such as leaving younger trees in place while only larger trees are harvested and preparing the ground to increase the rate of germination for tree seeds.

Natural regeneration is an ecologically responsible way to promote the regrowth of a forest area. But the process often takes a great deal of time and, therefore, may not be economically desirable.

More managed forms of regeneration are also possible. For example, young seedlings of valuable tree species may be planted and grown in greenhouses before being transplanted to the forest. This technique assures that high-quality trees of just the right species will grow in a particular area.

Once an acceptable population of trees has been planted in an area, intensive tending may be needed to protect these trees from forest fires, attack by pests, and intrusion of undesirable species. This form of management is very time-consuming, and is more likely used on tree farms.

One of the more widely used methods of forest management is known as a prescribed burn. A prescribed burn is the controlled burning of vegetation to achieve some effect. Most commonly, fires are intentionally set to reduce the amount of logging debris present after clear-cutting.

This practice is generally undertaken to make the site more accessible to tree planters.

Sometimes prescribed burns are also useful in developing better seedbeds for planting tree seedlings. Prescribed burns also can be used to encourage natural regeneration by particular types of trees that are economically valuable, such as certain species of pines. When using fire for this purposes, it is important to plan for the survival of an adequate number of mature seed trees. If this is not accomplished, the burned site would have to be planted with seedlings grown in a greenhouse.

Silviculture

Silviculture is a special field of forest management that involves the development of activities designed to establish, tend, protect, and harvest crops of trees, especially for use as timber. The term silviculture was invented to compare its activities with those of agriculture. Whereas agriculture deals with a great variety of different crops, silviculture (silvi means "trees") deals with trees only.

As with forestry systems in general, silviculture can use techniques ranging from entirely natural to highly intensive. An example of an intensive system used in North America might involve the following series

of activities: (1) whole-tree clear-cut harvesting of the natural forest, followed by (2) breaking up of the surface of the site to prepare it for planting, then (3) an evenly spaced planting of young seedlings of a very specific type of a single species (usually a conifer), with (4) one or more applications of herbicides to free seedlings from the harmful effects of competition with weeds, and (5) one or more thinnings of the maturing plantation, to optimize spacing and growth rates of the residual trees. Finally, the stand is (6) harvested by another whole-tree clear-cut, followed by (7) establishment, tending, and harvesting of the next stand using the same silvicultural system.

In contrast, a more natural silvicultural system might involve periodic selection and harvesting of a mixed-species forest, perhaps every decade or two, and with reliance on natural regeneration to ensure renewal of the economic resource.

Because silvicultural systems can differ so much in their intensity, they also vary in their environmental impacts. As is the case with agriculture, the use of intensive systems generally results in substantially larger yields of the desired economic commodity, in this case, trees. However, intensive systems have much greater environmental impacts associated with their activities.

[See also Forests ]

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forestry

forestry, the management of forest lands for wood, water, wildlife, forage, and recreation. Because the major economic importance of the forest lies in wood and wood products, forestry has been chiefly concerned with timber management, especially reforestation, maintenance of the extant forest stands at prime condition, and fire control. Silviculture is the name usually given to this manipulation of the forest for human purposes.

The Goal of Forestry

It is the chief goal of forestry to devise methods for felling trees that provide for the growth of a new forest crop and to ensure that adequate seed of desirable species is shed onto the ground and that conditions are optimal for seed germination and the survival of saplings. The basic rule of timber management is sustained yield; that is, to cut each year a volume of timber no greater than the volume of wood that grew during that year on standing trees.

Desirable timber species are usually those of the native climax vegetation (see ecology) that can perpetuate themselves by natural succession, although at times (intentionally or unintentionally) a forest may not represent the climax vegetation—such as the pine of the SE United States, which grows faster than, and has replaced, the hardwoods destroyed by fire and logging. The Douglas fir of Western forests is encouraged because it is more valuable than the climax vegetation of mixed conifers that tends to establish itself in the absence of human intervention. Planting trees of different sizes (either because of species or of age) prevents crowding and insures maximal growth for the given area. Extermination of diseases and insect pests is standard forestry practice.

Forest Fires

The control of forest fires has developed into an independent and complex science costing approximately $100 million annually in the United States. Because of the extremely rapid spreading and customary inaccessibility of fires once started, the chief aim of this work is prevention. However, despite the use of modern techniques (e.g., radio communications, rapid helicopter transport, and new types of chemical firefighting apparatus) more than 10 million acres of forest are still burned annually. Of these fires, about two thirds are started accidentally by people, almost one quarter are of incendiary origin, and more than 10% are due to lightning.

Modern firefighting practice now recognizes that fires caused by lightning are an important tool of nature. Such fires do away with dead underbrush and diseased areas of growth, leaving clear areas for new growth of grass and new generations of trees. Some trees, it has been found, cannot grow without the aid of fire. The cones of the jack pine, for example, need exposure to intense heat to release seed. Other species, such as the Douglas fir and the sequoia, cannot flourish in shaded areas but need the open sunlit space cleared by fire. For such reasons lightning-caused fires in many cases—especially in wilderness areas far from habitation—are now permitted to burn but are carefully monitored and kept under control.

The potential commercial value of the land lost to human-caused fire cannot be calculated: aside from the loss of timber, the damage is inestimable in terms of land rendered useless by ensuing soil erosion, elimination of wildlife cover and forage, and the loss of water reserves collected by a healthy forest. The increasing demand for water to supply growing metropolitan areas and for agricultural irrigation has stimulated the study of the essential role of forests in water conservation.

The Forest Service and Environmental Debate

In 1960 the Forest Service was charged by law with management of the national forests according to a philosophy of sustained yield and multiple use: production of timber, preservation of fish and wildlife habitat, watershed maintenance, mining, grazing, and recreation. In 1964, however, demand for timber led the Forest Service to adopt the practice of clearcutting used also by the commercial timber industry. Vast forest tracts are stripped of all trees, leaving an unsightly bald area. Environmentalists claim that clearcut areas are liable to insect infestation, landslides, and erosion, and that runoff causes siltation of neighboring streams and spoils fish spawning grounds. Environmentalists have also decried the ecologically disruptive effects of strip mining and overgrazing in the national forests and have urged restoration of blighted areas and more equitable multiple-use management in the future. In particular, emphasis has been placed on managing the forests in terms of broad concepts of land use and environmental quality. Like other federal agencies, the Forest Service must now assess the environmental impact of proposed actions, such as building new roads through the forests or granting rights to drill for oil or mine for coal and other minerals (see environmental impact statement; environmentalism).

History

Forests are vast and valuable expanses; the necessity for government supervision has long been recognized and is today employed virtually throughout the world. The earliest known instance of organized reforestation was in Germany in 1368, and by the mid-18th cent. the practice was well established also in neighboring Austria, Switzerland, and France. German immigrants to the United States (notably Carl Schurz, the first Secretary of the Interior) were instrumental in conserving the new forest lands. After the Timber Culture Act (1873), extensive planting began, although at first mostly in an attempt to forest the plains and prairies. Under President Theodore Roosevelt the first public forests were set aside (see National Forest System). The Civilian Conservation Corps, instituted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, planted about 2.25 billion trees in the decade from 1933 to 1942, and efforts in forestry have increased significantly in recent years. Today about 27% of U.S. forest is under public ownership, 17% as national forests administered by the Forest Service of the Dept. of Agriculture.

Bibliography

See S. W. Allen, An Introduction to American Forestry (3d ed. 1960); D. M. Smith, The Practice of Silviculture (7th ed. 1962); C. H. Stoddard, Essentials of Forestry Practice (2d ed. 1968).

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forestry

forestry
1. The practice of growing and managing forest trees for commercial timber production. This includes the management of specially planted forests, of native or exotic species, as well as the commercial use of existing forest, and the genetic improvement of timber trees for selected purposes.

2. The scientific study of tree growth and timber production systems.

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"forestry." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"forestry." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/forestry

"forestry." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Retrieved August 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/forestry

forestry

forestry
1. The practice of growing and managing forest trees for commercial timber production. This includes the management of specially planted forests, of native or exotic species, as well as the commercial use of existing forest, and the genetic improvement of timber trees for selected purposes.

2. The scientific study of tree growth and timber production systems.

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"forestry." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"forestry." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/forestry-0

"forestry." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Retrieved August 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/forestry-0

forestry

forestry Managing areas of forest and their waters and clearings. Forestry aims to produce timber, but conservation of soil, water and wildlife is also a consideration. Natural forests once covered nearly two-thirds of the world's land surface, but clearances reduced this figure to less than one-third today.

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"forestry." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"forestry." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/forestry

"forestry." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/forestry

forestry

for·est·ry / ˈfôrəstrē; ˈfär-/ • n. the science or practice of planting, managing, and caring for forests.

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"forestry." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"forestry." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/forestry-0

"forestry." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/forestry-0

forestry

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"forestry." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"forestry." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/forestry

"forestry." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/forestry