Talk:Forest

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Biome[edit]

I removed the sentence about the biome. See definition of what of biome is. Compare with biota. User:anthere

Do all forest have trees?[edit]

On the link, Bamboo, they state a bamboo forest. Thanks, CarpD, 8/15/07.

Montane forest[edit]

I believe that Montane forest should have its own article. That could be defined as forest which depends on orographic precipitation, and would occur on the opposite sides of rain shadows. At least in some instances the ecology and conservation of these forests differ from others.

The Temperate cloud forests paragraph in the Cloud forest article may refer to this type in part. One could also expand the Cloud forest article to one under the Montane forest title, which would include 1. Cloud forests, 2. Temperate cloud forests, 3. Sholas and 4. Bamboo forests as special cases or paragraphs. I copy this comment on the Cloud forest page. JMK (talk) 15:39, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Forest coverage should include that 50% of the world's forests have been cleared, another 30 percent have been severely degraded. These statistics were produced by the United nations Environment Program in 2000. Without the world's forests the biosphere's ability to provide humans and all other creatures with clean air and free oxygen will be seriously hurt. Planting more forests, restoring degraded forests will arrest Carbon dioxide build-up hugely. It is one huge way we have of tackling climate change and generating wealth and sustainability at the same time. Dr Bernardine Atkinson. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 119.225.255.209 (talk) 05:02, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

Wellard[edit]

In the lead, Wellard is listed among the synonyms for Forest. Is this referenced anywhere? I can find nothing confirming Wellard = forest. Leasnam (talk) 18:23, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

I can find nothing confirming this either. I think it may be vandalism. I will remove it. 1brettsnyder (talk) 06:34, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Thank you! Leasnam (talk) 17:09, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

Decent unobscure language[edit]

Wold, weald, holt, frith, and firth. No, it is not good English to go to Norway or Cambodia and say, "What a lovely frith.." or any of the others. Put it in the etymology section unless it is strikingly significant. No need for a list of numbers or obscure terms when we are trying to read sentences which do not rely on them. Thankee. Removed accordingly, appologies. ~ R.T.G 18:46, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

Note: Some common things in the world like forests and streams and huts and many regular things would have a different name from each different village. That is slang. Sure, some words, like holt, are a little more than slang and yet, a little less than a map of etymology in the lead section? Cheers, ~ R.T.G 18:56, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

potential resource: Science News "Rain tips balance between forest and savanna: Amount of tree cover can shift suddenly and abruptly"[edit]

Also see Tipping point.

99.181.135.155 (talk) 03:26, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

When did the tree forests cover half of the Earth?[edit]

"Tree forests cover approximately 9.4 percent of the Earth's surface (or 30 percent of total land area), though they once covered much more (about 50 percent of total land area)."

When was this?

68.174.141.151 (talk) 00:20, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

Forest definition[edit]

The forest definition in the lead section is too simple, as it is only concerned with a part of the forest, the trees. I have found a more comprehensive definition in "Young, Raymond. Introduction to forest Science.Wiley.”, that conveniently modified to avoid copyrights infringement could be as follows:

The forest is a community of living organisms, that interact mutually and with the physical environment, characterized by the fact that contain trees, which constitute the larger part of their biomass.--Auró (talk) 08:41, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
Done.--Auró (talk) 12:17, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

Forest Description[edit]

Forests are central to all human life because they provide a diverse range of resources: they store carbon dioxide, aid in regulating climate, purify water, generate air (oxygen) and mitigate natural hazards such as floods. Forests are very productive, as each mature tree produces atleast ten new trees each year, over a 50 to 100 year life span, though under natural conditions most forest trees grow on for several 100 years. Left on their own, forests advance rapidly in a decade or so. Each hectare of dense forest absorbs about 5 to 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, depending on the forest type and climate. Many of the fruits and some household pets, are thought to have originated from the forests, and were domesticated and developed on farms and in villages close to the forests.

AesopSmart (talk) 01:52, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

Yes, but the statement about the quantity of carbon dioxide stored should be based on some reference, or not included.--Auró (talk) 21:22, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

The data mentioned above is obtained from the reference values of the UNFCCC for clean development mechanisms with forestry.

AesopSmart (talk) 06:39, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

All your statements need to be referenced, they need to be meaningful, they need to be accurate and the style needs to be encylopaedic.
What does "central to all human life" even mean? Such a statement is not encyclopaedic. Forests aren't central to the life a traditional Eskimo, for example. Such a statement is not encyclopaedic or meaningful.
Forest aren't generally or globally net oxygen producers, in fact most forests are not oxygen consumers. "Very productive" is also vague. NPP in forests is higher than in deserts, but lower than in many grasslands or polar oceans. So such statement is not accurate or encyclopedic.
The claim that each tree in a forest produces at least 10 new trees a year is unreferenced an clearly bunkum. Even by the most lenient reading of the statement and assuming that it takes 50 years for a tree to reach maturity, if a forest started with just one tree per hectare, then after 50 years there would be 51 mature trees per hectare, after 100 years there would be >2600 trees per hectare etc. If the Amazon rainforest has existed in situ for at just 10, 000 years it would need to contain over 3 trillion trees per hectare if this statement were in any sense true. At this point the weight of the trees in the Amazon would be slightly more than the weight of the Earth itself. The statement is patently absurd.
When you can address these obvious errors, we can consider adding this material to the article.Mark Marathon (talk) 08:42, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

Forests spread very rapidly, when left alone, without any human intervention or interference. AesopSmart (talk) 01:08, 11 November 2014 (UTC)

Lede[edit]

The lede is confusing, contradictory, unreferenced and apparently inaccurate.

  • Forests (also referred to as a wood or the woods)...

A forest can be referred to as a wood. It can also be referred to as a copse, a grove, plantation, a stand and a great many other things. But none of these terms is synonymous with forest, and neither is "wood". While a forest can be referred to as a wood, as wood is by no stretch the same thing as a forest. Either we need to list all of the dozens of ways that some forests can be referred to, or we need to delete wood. Leaving it gives the misleading impression that the two terms are synonymous.

  • ... are... characterized by the presence of trees that have symbiotic relationships with each other...

So according to Wikipedia, a monocultural plantation of exotic trees is not a forest, since the trees do not have a symbiotic relationship with the other organisms there? This seems to be patent nonsense. Every forester int he world would call a eucalypt or pine plantation a forest.

  • ...have symbiotic relationships with each other and the physical environment.

We've already stated that the organisms have a symbiotic relationship with each other, so we must be referring tot he abiotic environment here. But symbiosis is defined as a close mutualistic relationship between two organisms, even by Wikipedia. So how can any organism have a symbiotic relationship with the abiotic environment? This statemnt is either a redundant reference to symbiosis with the biotic environment, or a confusing untruth.

  • ...any tall densely packed area of vegetation may be considered a forest, even underwater vegetation such as kelp forests, or non-vegetation such as fungi,[3] and bacteria.

But we just said that a forest is characterized by the presence of trees. One of these statements must be incorrect.

  • They function as habitats for organisms, hydrologic flow modulators, and soil conservers, constituting one of the most important aspects of the biosphere.

Having just said that even marine algal and bacterial stands can be considered forests, it seems unlikely that such a forest can ever function as soil conservers or flow modulators. Either this statement isn't true of all forests or the definition of forest needs to be narrowed a lot.

  • A typical forest is composed of the overstory (canopy or upper tree layer) and the understory.

Typical in what way? Is this really typical of a kelp or fungal forest? With such a wide diversity of forests under discussion, what does typical even mean?

  • The understory is further subdivided into a shrub layer, herb layer, and moss layer, and also soil microbes.

Sol microbes part of the understorey? Seems implausible and not referenced in the article that I can see.

  • Forests are central to all human life

Seems terribly unencyclopaedic. What does this even mean?

Are we saying that without forests all human life would be extinct? I would need to see a reference to believe that claim. Or are we saying that forests are a central part of the activities that all humans undertake in their lives? How is this in any sense true of, say, an Aboriginal in outback Australia?

  • because they provide a diverse range of resources: they store carbon dioxide

Storing CO2 isn't a resource, it's a service.

  • aid in regulating climate, purify water and mitigate natural hazards such as floods.

None of which seems especially pertinent to a hunter gatherer living in the middle of a desert with rainfall entirely dependent on Oceanic currents. So how are forests central to her life?

We really need to ditch the emotional hyperbole here and just say what we mean in a factual manner. Forests are important, that doesn't make them central to all life.

And this is just the lede. The rest of the article has lots of other issues.Mark Marathon (talk) 09:08, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

Etymology[edit]

While having an etymology section is nice, isn't it rather secondary to having an actual definition? At no stage in this whole article do we actually define what a forest is. We started out in thelede talking about everything from rainforests to underwater kelp forests to microscopic bacterial forests. But we never took this any further and explained what the word means or what usage is being applied in this article. At this stage, everything written in this article needs to be true of rainforests, kelp forests and bacterial forests or else it is inaccurate.

Even if we do manage to define what we mean by forest in this article, we still haven't clarified at all the usages within that. We haven;t explained, for example, the difference between a forest and a savanna, shrubland, heath or woodland. We haven't mentioned anything about tree density or height. Even if we nail down forest in this article to areas with "trees", the article will still need to cover heaths and savannas. This section should probably be renamed "Definition" or similar, and incorporate the broadest definitions, clarify the one that we are using here followed by section on some of the more common delineators (density, height, timber production etc). The section currently touche son this in the last line, but nowhere near enough depth for an article that started the lede with such a broad defintion.Mark Marathon (talk) 09:59, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

Distribution[edit]

  • Forests can be found in all regions capable of sustaining tree growth, at altitudes up to the tree line, except where natural fire frequency or other disturbance is too high, or where the environment has been altered by human activity.

First off this is simply not true. Savannas, for example, are perfectly capable of supporting tree growth, savannas are defined as regions supporting tree growth. But you don't find forests on the Serengeti. There are also plenty of places in the world where exotic trees are converting grasslands or savannas into forests. So such areas were provably capable of supporting tree growth and yet were not forests. So no, forests can not be found in all regions capable of supporting tree growth.

Leaving aside that he statement simply isn;t ture, it's an unclear mess. What are we trying to say here? Aren't altitudes above the treeline a regions incapable of sustaining? If so then why bother to mention them as something special? If a region has a natural fire frequency too high to support tree growth, then doesn't that make it a region incapable of supporting tree growth?

This statement has become a self-contradictory misleading mess. If we are going to specifically mention regions where fire or altitude prevent tree growth, then why aren't we mentioning all the other limitations on tree growth, such as lack of rainfall, freezing, low light levels, browsing and grazing animals, diseases, waterlogging, salinity shallow soil etc?

All these things are an essential part of a complete forest article. Quite simply we need to answer the questions "Why are forests found where they are" and "What does a forest need to exist".

  • The latitudes 10° north and south of the Equator are mostly covered in tropical rainforest

I'd like to see a reference for this claim. Most of it will be farmland and ocean, surely?

  • Forests sometimes contain many tree species only within a small area (as in tropical rain and temperate deciduous forests), or relatively few species over large areas (e.g., taiga and arid montane coniferous forests).

Obvious question, but what the heck does this have to do with distribution? Mark Marathon (talk) 10:00, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

And forests sometimes contain lots of species, and sometimes few. Do they never contain intermediate numbers? If so why are only the extremes mentioned?


  • Forests are often home to many animal and plant species

Only "often"? Depending how we define the weasel-word "many", I would have thought that forest were always home to many animal and plant species. Even an exotic planation forest will contain hundreds f specie sof plants and animals, which is 'many' in most peoples books.

And why is this relevant at all? Why should the reader care about this factoid?

And what does this have to do with distribution?


  • and biomass per unit area is high compared to other vegetation communities.

Why is it high and why should we care?

  • Much of this biomass occurs below ground in the root systems and as partially decomposed plant detritus.

"Much" is a meaningless weasel word. And why shoudl the reader care? And why is this more important than where most of the biomass is found?

  • The woody component of a forest contains lignin, which is relatively slow to decompose compared with other organic materials such as cellulose or carbohydrate.

Once again, how much lignin does it contain? Is wood 1% lignin or 99% And why doe sit matter? Wood contains a lot of stuff. Why is this one being focussed on?

  • Forests are differentiated from woodlands by the extent of canopy coverage: in a forest, the branches and the foliage of separate trees often meet or interlock, although there can be gaps of varying sizes within an area referred to as forest. A woodland has a more continuously open canopy, with trees spaced farther apart, which allows more sunlight to penetrate to the ground between them (also see: savanna).

So we finally get to one definition of forest. But for some reason it's in the "Distribution" section.

Once again, what does "often" mean? Is it mostly? True for every thousand pair of trees? And what does "continuously open canopy" mean? If there is a canopy, then how can it be continuously open?

Types of forests[edit]

This is constructed as a list, but I can;t make out what it's a list of.

It starts out listing forests according to latitude, but then adds physiognomy and something abut climate specificity. What exactly is being listed here? It seems like a random assortment of vaguely forest-related material with no commonality at all.

  • Sparse trees and parkland are forests with open canopies of 10–30% crown cover.

We just finished saying that areas with sparse canopies are woodlands and NOT forests. And now we are saying that even at 10% canopy cover, these areas are still forests. these can't both be true. this is why this article desperately needs a definition section.

  • The two major zones in which these ecosystems occur are in the boreal region and in the seasonally dry tropics. At high latitudes, north of the main zone of boreal forest or taiga, growing conditions are not adequate to maintain a continuous closed forest cover, so tree cover is both sparse and discontinuous. This vegetation is variously called open taiga, open lichen woodland, and forest tundra. It is species-poor, has high bryophyte cover, and is frequently affected by fire.

Is that last sentence referring to both boreal and seasonally dry tropics? If not, why is only the boreal region mentioned?

  • Forest categories

This is an article on Forests generally. Is it really aiding understanding to go into such great detail on a single classification system? If we do this for each of the 15 or so major schemes in current use, the page is going to be a mess and be 10 times longer than it currently is. If we don't then we give the impression that this scheme is more important than the others. Seems we would be better off splitting all this material on UNEP-WCMC's forest category classification system into its own article.

Forest loss and management[edit]

Why are such disparate subjects in one section? They hardly seem to be related to each other at all. Why not two separate sections?

The section has a huge section on Canada that, if followed in similar for every country in the world will make the article a mess. This is an article on forests. It needs to remain focussed on the general, not specific countries.

But this whole section generally seems like lacking in any sort of focus. Whats; it actually about.Mark Marathon (talk) 09:58, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

General comments[edit]

As a vital article, this is a mess. Aside from the specific problems raised above, the whole article is unfocussed and needs to be essentially rewritten..

As an encyclopaedia article it needs to start from basics and keep focussed on the broad topic and lead to specifics through links. Define a forest. Explain what it looks like. Explain how they operate. Explain their history. Explain why they are important. Explain that humans categorise and manage them, but only very broadly and link to separate article son specific management and classification schemes. Explain human impacts, but don't go into detail.

I'll see if I can find the time sometime soon, but this whole article needs a complete rewrite to get some basic clarity and focus.Mark Marathon (talk) 10:05, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

Unreliable source[edit]

I dispute that reference 5 Sorting fact from fiction – questionable ‘science’ and ‘management’ that underpin Queensland’s Vegetation Management Act by Bill Burrows is a reliable source. See WP:PRIMARYSOURCE, WP:Verifiability, and WP:NOTRELIABLE.

The reference is to a transcription of a speech to a rally of the Property Rights Australia group (as described at the top of the link). The contents of the talk were not reviewed by a third-party for accuracy (unlike, say, a news article or scholarly journal). This makes it a primary source, which can be used to describe the beliefs of Bill Burrows, but not be used to support a general factual statement.

Reference 6 Tree/shrub population trends in Queenslands grazed woodlands - implications for management looks more like a scholarly paper, but I cannot find it in Google Scholar. Reference 6 is hosted by an NGO, which may be more neutral than a property rights group. It's kind of dodgy.

I would propose qualifying the statements:

Conversely, some ecologists, such as Bill Burrows, believe that forests reduce land productivity, incur economic costs, and reduce biodiversity.[5][6]

Comments? —hike395 (talk) 04:56, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

1) The speech transcript is a fully referenced piece by a reputable expert in the field and qualifies as RS. However rather than waste tiem taking this to the RS noticeboard where it will be confirmed, I will simply replace that reference with the references contained within the transcript. Problem solved.
2) Whether you can find a source within Google Scholar or not is irrelevant to whether it is RS. See [[WP:OFFLINE. SO we can ignore this objection for now.
3) There is nothing "dodgy" about an NGO. If we start declaring NGOs dodgy then everything form the IPCC will have to be declared dodgy. I dont; think you are going to get community consensus on that, but good luck trying
4) I totally reject your proposed edits. This isn't a minority opinion, it is universally accepted by ecologists and economists. If forests do not impose an economic cost then nobody would clear forests to make money. That is self evident and something that hardly requires a reference. Nonetheless, this being Wikipedia, I provided a reference. But I am astonished that anyone honestly believes, as you apparently do, that there are any economists who do not believe that forests are capable of reducing the economic value and agricultural potential of land, much less that such a view is held by a majority of experts. You learn something new every day. There isn't going to be any great difficulty in drowning this stateement in references, I simply grabbed the first ones that Google scholar threw up. I am however astonished that such an uncontroversial statement that forests can be less economically productive than farmland needs a dozen references to convince some editorsMark Marathon (talk) 07:12, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
@Mark: Perhaps you could choose the two or three best citations which support the position? —EncMstr (talk) 07:18, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
I agree with EncMstr. Each claim needs 1 or perhaps 2 reliable citations, not 3-7. Right now, the article looks like Mark is trying to make a WP:POINT. Which citations are the best ones? —hike395 (talk) 13:29, 20 November 2014 (UTC)
Other editors will have to decide which references are best. I started out with two references for a position that hardly needs to be referenced at all. Despite the references, it was then challenged by multiple editors on the grounds that:
  • Only being an issue on 4 continents and a over a billion hectares, it was a local dispute
  • Fully referenced speeches by world authorities are not reliable sources.
  • Anything not available online if "dodgy".
  • It is a minority opinion
  • Material produced by NGOs is dodgy.
  • The claims are under-referenced and "several more solid reliable sources are needed".
I have addressed each of those objections by including several more references that state this is a global issue, references that are available online, references to non-NGO sources, references that are secondary or tertiary that this is the consensus view and references that are peer reviewed. My "point" was solely to address the objections. If we now have consensus that these statements are both true and verifiable on a global scale, and other editors want to note that for the record, then we can certainly prune the references back to the 2 that I had originally, provided that the editor who claimed that "several more solid reliable sources are needed" accepts that. After all, two is not several. Which two I will leave to other editors to decide. I am (and was) happy enough with the original references, though there are certainly better ones available now.Mark Marathon (talk) 23:16, 20 November 2014 (UTC)
I agree: that is a far fairer interpretation of the citation. For the statement in the article to stand as is, several more solid reliable sources are needed, as it is a controversial point of view. —EncMstr (talk) 07:16, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
The position is in no way controversial. I would dearly love to see a reference from any economist or ecologist which suggests that forests can never, ever have economic or environmental costs. The statement as written is supported, AFAIK, by 100% of economists and ecologists. As noted above, it should be self-evident based on the simple fact that people spend money to remove forests to make way for farmland, urban development etc. But this is all irrelevant. The statement has now been supported by a landslide of references, including to the world bank, ABS, top tier journals, conference proceedings etc. I trust this will satisfy those editors who think it is controversial to note that people spend money clearing forest because they expect to make back more money than it costs.Mark Marathon (talk) 08:21, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

I agree with Mark Marathon that men use land space originally occupied by forests to satisfy agricultural, industrial and urban needs. Every informed person knows that. In fact this information hardly would need any reference at all. I, nevertheless, doubt that the sentence "forest may reduce land productivity, incur economic cost" is a satisfactory, neutral and fair way for conveying this idea. I therefore propose an alternative:

"In spite of all above benefits, it has to be noticed that, land being an scarce commodity, human societies have to decide how much of it is devoted to forests and other vital needs like agriculture, residence, infrastructure and so on."--Auró (talk) 08:21, 20 November 2014 (UTC)

While the point shouldn't need referencing, at least 3 editors have vociferously claimed that it is untrue, or at best locally true, and a minority opinion and does need referencing.
And the way that it is worded now is completely neutral and fair. We have listed the benefits of forests and the reasons for keeping them, then noted the costs of forests, and the reasons for not having them. That is as neutral as it is possible to be.
The proposed alternative wording is not at all neutral. It seem self-evident that a proposal to list the positive aspects of a potential land use but refuse to list the negative can never be considered neutral. A proposal to list the positive aspects and actually delete a compiled (referenced) list of negative aspects is a blatant violation of WP:NPOV. If we make a list of good points, we need to have a list of bad to even pretend the article has NPOV.
Even if we do list all the benefits and detriments, the proposed sentence is not neutral. We don't start out the section on the benefits of forest with "In spite of the following detriments..." so it is not neutral to start out the detriment section that way. To do so clearly favours one view point. Would editors feel it neutral if we start out the paragraph listing all the detriments of forests, then follow that with "In spite of all the problems caused by forests, it has to be noticed that, land being an scarce commodity, human societies have to decide how much of it is devoted to vital needs like food, water, medicine and economic development for the poorest nations of the world and so on and how much can be allowed to be forested"? Does that seem reasonable and neutral? If you think not then clearly the alternative proposal is not neutral.
If we plead one position first, then follow that with "despite all these good reason for not having/having forests some people have decided to have/not have forests", then we are explicitly favouring the first position. The neutral wording presentation is the current one, or something similar: list all the benefits of forest, then list all the detriments. No opinion, no implication that one position or the other is driven by desperate need. Purely neutral.
Remember, this is the lede. It is meant to present the outline of the article, which can be fleshed out in greater details in subsequent sections. (I intend to rewrite the entire article over time, but we need to get consensus on the definition/introduction first). We can flesh out the reasons for deforestation/prevention of forest invasion in later sections on those subjects. The lede is not, IMO, the place to start presenting arguments concerning whether forest should be the default land use should only be changed due to demand for "vital services" or vice versa. It is enough for the lede to note that there are both positive and negative aspects to forests, and perhaps a brief sentence that the negative aspects lead to forest being cleared/prevented from expanding and the positive aspects lead to forests being planted.::
In short, we can't list either the negative and positive aspects of this land use and not the other, and we can not possibly include a sentence to the effects of "Despite all these good reasons for getting rid of forests, some people want to keep them". Neither of those proposals is anything like neutral Mark Marathon (talk) 23:01, 20 November 2014 (UTC)
I agree with your neutrality argument. I also admit to some bias toward regarding forests as pure benefit.
After a lot of mulling this over, I realized the "cost of having a forest" often doesn't consider its true value which is difficult to establish: the value of yet-undiscovered herbs and insects a forest may harbor, the value of a park-like entity for human visitors (how does one put a valuation on a city park anyway?), and the value of its bio-remediation and similar effects. However, it is easy to assign a value to harvesting it and establishing an agricultural field. When balancing a solid value versus a nebulous one, rarely does one consider the nebulous one more useful. —EncMstr (talk) 23:54, 20 November 2014 (UTC)
You are absolutely correct: the various ways of doing cost/benefit analyses of forests is a subject that libraries of books have been written on. There are a whole slew of issues surrounding marginal values, opportunity costs, dispersed benefits etc. In summary: it's complicated and no two experts agree. It's certainly something that will need to be addressed in the relevant sections of this article. But for the lede, I think it's sufficient to note that there are good and bad points to having forests and list what those points are.Mark Marathon (talk) 00:27, 21 November 2014 (UTC)

Forest is the default system in many regions of the planet, and it started to exist about 280 million years ago. Homo sapiens is only 0.2 million years old. The action of men has not been mainly to plant forest, but to clear them to conduct other activities, like agriculture. The benefits of forest are universally acknowledged, and were not for the fact that men need land to produce aliment, we would have many more than we have. The greater part of countries have legislation to protect forests.

I am aware of the fact you point out, we are discussing the lead section, and information in it has to be precise and short, but no so short that it conveys inexact ideas. I like to go point by point, and for this reason I am centering in the "productivity" part. Productivity can be measured in many ways. I can measure productivity in terms of tons, cubic meters, Euros, Dollars. Considering the references you mention, I assume you are talking about "economical productivity". The term "diminish" has a temporally sequential sense and comparative value, so to introduce it without making the comparisons and eventual sequences has no sense. As we can not go into details in this section, I would substitute this term by an other one that does not need additional information.

To be cunstructive, I will try to approach your position, and avoid to make explicit mention to the fact that forest benefits are defended by a majority, and accommodate to the structure initiated by you, but changing the wording. So I am proposing the following:

"On the other hand, it has to be considered that forests may be less economically productive than other land uses, or even have a cost."--Auró (talk) 08:52, 21 November 2014 (UTC)

That is not a compromise and would be in blatant violation of WP:NPOV. See the discussion above. Moreover the current wording is well referenced, to the point that consensus is that it is over referenced, so it can not be removed. As for the rest of your screed, I have no idea what point you think it makes and much of seems provably untrue. Suggesting that a common English word like "diminished" is too contentious for a lede seems unusual to say the least. It is certainly has no more "sequential sense and comparative value" than "provide", "aid", or "serve", words which are all adjacent and which nobody has a problem with. If we are to go down the route of using no words with any suggestion of "sequential sense and comparative value" then all those word will have to go as well. But of course we won't be doing that. Wikipedia is written in standard English and there is no policy that prohibits use of words with "sequential sense and comparative value" so long as all points of view are presented in a balanced manner. Short form: the current edit is well referenced, balanced and accurate. If you have some issue with the factual content or are arguing a lack of balance, then we can discuss that. If that isn't the case it doesn't need to be altered. It certainly can not be removed as you have suggested since that is a violation if WP:NPOV.Mark Marathon (talk) 09:07, 21 November 2014 (UTC)
I often try to reach a consensus to bridge conflicting points of view on Wikipedia articles. Some times it works, so it is a path worth trying. On other occasions it does not work. I will not put blame on any one, it simply happens. I have serious doubts that the disputed sentence is well backed by the references. I will proceed to examine them, and will say what I find. The time I can spend at Wikipedia editing is not big, so it may be that in the elapsed time someone will convince Mark Marathon to change the writing.--Auró (talk) 20:47, 23 November 2014 (UTC)
You do that. Reaching consensus something isn't something Wikipedians should "often try" to do. It's something we are always obliged to do. The current wording is very close paraphrase of the references, so I doubt there's going to be much room for dispute in that front. At this stage it looks like we have consensus on the definition and lede, so I will move onto the next section at the first opportunity.Mark Marathon (talk) 22:42, 23 November 2014 (UTC)

Latest edits[edit]

Two points seem to be contentious:

  • I've been trying to say in the lede that forests are common and widespread throughout the world. I realize that "worldwide" perhaps connotes ubiquity, which is not right, as Mark points out. However, cosmopolitan distribution is the technical term for a species (or community) that is common and widespread in the world, in the appropriate situation. Orcas have a cosmopolitan distribution, but do not occur in alpine regions. I'm not sure why it's been marked with "Huh?". Perhaps editors can suggest alternate wording?
  • I was trying to simplify the sentence "It is often forgotten that forests do not only provide benefits, but can also incur large and significant costs to humans." to "Forests not only provide benefits, but incur significant costs to humans". Strunk and White's Elements of Style suggests that good writing should "Omit needless words". Mark reverted my edit, and I'm not sure why. I can't find the references on-line -- I wanted to double-check that the references actually talk about the fact that costs are forgotten (rather than simply have costs). Mark, can you provide quotes from those references that talk about forgotten costs? Otherwise, I would prefer the shorter versions.

From the discussion, above, about reliable sources.

  • I think it's pretty clear from WP:RS and WP:V that WP should use references fact-checked and reviewed. That was my main point, above. The reason why I said the citation from the NGO was "dodgy" was because I couldn't tell whether the paper was published in a journal (i.e., fact-checked and review), or was a position paper. There was no citation to a journal given, just a web link. Position papers (and speeches) are not reliable sources, per WP:RS.
  • Similarly, I can't tell whether some of the cost references are to papers that have been fact-checked, or not. Clearly the following references are in peer-reviewed journals and should be just fine:
    • Gray, Emma F.; Bond, William J. (2013). "Will woody plant encroachment impact the visitor experience and economy of conservation areas?". Koedoe 55 (1). ISSN 0075-6458.
    • Scholes, R.J.; Archer, S.R. (1997). "Tree-Grass Interactions in Savannas". Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 28: 517–544.
    • Zakary Ratajczak, Jesse B. Nippert, and Scott L. Collins 2012 "Woody encroachment decreases diversity across North American grasslands and savannas" Ecology 93:4, 697-703
I am much less certain about the following citations, because I cannot read them. Are they simply discussion papers? Have they gone through peer-review?
  • Nasi, R; Wunder, S; Campos A, JJ (March 11, 2002). "Forest ecosystem services: can they pay our way out of deforestation?". "UNFF II". Costa Rica.
  • Emerton, Lucy (1999). Mount Kenya: The Economics Of Community Conservation (Community Conservation research Working Paper). Evaluating Eden Series. University of Manchester Institute of Development Policy and Management.
  • Henneleen de Boo, Henk Lette (2002). "Economic Valuation of Forests and Nature A support tool for effective decision-making". Theme Studies Series 6 Forests. Ede, The Netherlands: Forestry and Biodiversity Support Group, International Agricultural Centre (IAC), Wageningen National Reference Centre for Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries (EC-LNV).
These may be edited books, which are probably just fine. Page numbers to support the specific points would be quite welcome.
  • Bishop, Joshua T., ed. (1999). Valuing Forests A Review of Methods and Applications in Developing Countries. London: Environmental Economics Programme, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
  • Pimentel, David; Pimentel, Marcia H. (2007). Food, Energy, and Society. CRC Press.
  • Any and all help in improving this article would be great. It's not at all in good shape. Thanks! —hike395 (talk) 03:03, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
I have two issues with the distribution quote. The first, as noted ion the edit summary, is that the cosmopolitan distribution article states that the term only applies to taxa, not land use types. As such, we are going to need to change the linked article to agree, or reference the claim. I personally think the usage of the term here is a bit clunky. Deserts are just as widespread, by some analyses more widespread, than forests. But we wouldn't say that deserts have cosmopolitan distribution, so it's a bit odd to use it for forests. Both deserts and forests exist as patches in all kinds of places, but that's not what is normally meant by cosmopolitan. I don't totally reject the usage, but think it can be improved. The second issue is that it seems patently untrue. Orcas may have a cosmpolitan distribution, but if I claimed they were cosmopolitan... except for forests and deserts, then the claim becomes untrue. The exception proves the rule: by listing exceptions, we are stating that the rule applies elsewhere. Clearly forests are not found everywhere for deserts and polar regions. No forests on the Asian steppes, none in downtown Tokyo, none in the vineyards of France and so forth. If we start listing exceptions, we need to make sure we list them all. I'm not quite sure what you want to say, but it seems like you are struggling to say that forest have a broad, though patchy, latitudinal distribution that stops at the poles. If that is what you are trying to say then use worse to that effects. If you are trying to say something else then explain what that is. Someone I might be able to suggest an alternative wording.
It's odd that you can't find those sources online. They are all freely available. The first hit on Google Shcolar in most cases.
There is no requirement under any Wikipedia policy that references go through peer review. In simple terms, all that is required is that they come from an unbiased, authoritative source or, for biased sources, that publishing organisation have a reputation for fact checking. A widely-cited paper prepared by GEF by CIFOR scientists and economists for a discussion session at a major forestry convention clearly meets those standards. There is no requirement for a peer-review. Ditto for the other reference. Similarly, any book published by a reputable publisher, such as CRC press, is considered RS. IIED, as a development organisation, might be considered biased but you can confirm for yourself with a Google Scholar search that this artcile, and thousands of others by the same organisation, are widely cited in top-tier journals. So I have no doubt at all that it will pass community review as RS. If you believe otherwise, you will need to progress this to the RS noticeboard.
As for the actual wording, the quote from one article is:
"It is often conveniently forgotten by conservationists that the presence of a forest does not only imply benefits, but can also incur costs to humans. For the local forest or forest-margin dweller, this can for instance include forest predators attacking domestic livestock, forest birds damaging crops, or forest elephants devastating human infrastructure or the opportunity cost of using that land for more profitable uses, such as agriculture. What is decisive for local actors are the net benefits - i.e. the sum of all forest benefits and costs. When deciding on local land-use changes, an individual landowner or forest manager has to make his or her own individual valuation exercise, to determine whether these net local benefits are superior to the best possible land-use alternative. As we will discuss below, in many cases they are not. Local people tend to convert tropical forests because it pays for them to do so. This is the principal reason for advancing deforestation." Emphasis in original.
From the other:
For example, the designation of forests as protected areas can be seen as a means by which certain interest groups (typically not the poor) secure recreational, amenity or non-use values. This may result in significant loss to another group, e.g. subsistence farmers who rely on forest land for extraction of non-timber forest products, or for shifting agriculture....Several case studies emphasize the significant opportunity cost of forest conversion or sustainable management to local land users in developing countries, underscoring the need for better compensation mechanisms to win support for forest conservation. Emphasis mine.
I have removed the words "conveniently" and "conservationists" from the first ref as being too POV for an encyclopaedia article. But I trust that you will agree that the wording is an accurate reflection of the author's meaning. The addition of "significant" to the sentence is justified by the second article. Unless you think that the costs are often forgotten, but the significant costs are not, I believe the statement is well supported.
And the words are not unneeded IMO, and removing them changes the meaning of the sentence. This is a major point of the authors: that forests impose costs in terms of lost opportunity, health, animal attacks etc. The fact that this article has existed for years without a single reference to the costs of forests highlights this fact that you know to be true: that most westerners see forests purely as assets. We forget that most people in the developing world see them as liabilties. It's going to come as a surprise to many Wikipedia readers that forest have significant economic and human costs. As such I think the current wording is required, for both the article to accurately convey the intent of the references.
I'm actually a bit surprised that you are challenging this. You seem to accept that significant costs are imposed by forests, and I am assuming that you don't dispute that this point is often forgotten. So if you do accept it, then you seem to be challenging that the sky is blue. You should really only challenge facts that you think are wrong or controversial, and neither seems to apply here.Mark Marathon (talk) 04:39, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
OK, point taken on cosmopolitan distribution. I went back to a review paper about forest distribution and biomass (which I found quite interesting, actually), and used their wording ("dominant ecosystem", "distributed throughout the world"). I added some extra interesting information into the ecology section, too.
Thanks for quoting the sources: I tried to look for them with DuckDuckGo (which for some reason didn't find them :-( ). I should have tried Google Scholar. Given that the sources actually do talk about people forgetting the costs, I am happy to keep the extra words. —hike395 (talk) 07:49, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
That paper is a good find. We should probably use it as a framework for the layout of of this article. The only thing we have to keep in mind is that it only applies to one definition of "forest" and isn't necessarily applicable to forests as a whole. Mark Marathon (talk) 22:33, 27 November 2014 (UTC)