Outline of forestry

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The following outline is provided as an overview of and guide to forestry:

Forestry – science and craft of creating, managing, using, conserving, and repairing forests and associated resources to meet desired goals, needs, and values for human and environment benefits.[1] Forestry is practiced in plantations and natural stands. Forestry accommodates a broad range of concerns, through what is known as multiple-use management, striving for sustainability in the provision of timber, fuel wood, wildlife habitat, natural water quality management, recreation, landscape and community protection, employment, aesthetically appealing landscapes, biodiversity management, watershed management, erosion control, and preserving forests as 'sinks' for atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Focus of forestry[edit]

  • Tree – organism, whose species, age, vitality, growth, health, and size, are considered individually or more often, as part of a whole;
  • Forest – defined as either a geographic area or delineated by the general composition of individuals;
  • Biome – ecologically defined by its forest structure, leaf types, tree spacing, and climate
General Forested Biomes
Boreal forest in Finland clipped.jpg
Pinus echinata USFWS retouched.jpg Fall foliage on the Black River clipped.jpg Korkeichenwald bei Evora02 clipped.jpg
Coniferous Broadleaf and mixed Mediterranean
Tropical conifers El Salvador.jpg Gabon tropical rainforest.jpg Nilgiri Hills trees.jpg
Coniferous Moist broadleaf Dry broadleaf
Cartagena de Indias, manglar clipped.jpg Picea mariana taiga clipped.jpg Cypress Swamp modified.jpg
Mangroves Bogs Swamps
Avenida brasil clipped.jpg Cloquet riparian forest clipped.jpg
Urban Riparian

Branches of forestry[edit]

  • Agroforestry – integration of forests into agricultural systems in order to optimize the production and positive effects within the system and minimize negative side effects of farming
  • Boreal forestry – analyzes the particular challenges of forestry in the world's boreal regions
  • Close to nature forestry – theory and practice that takes the forest as an ecosystem and manages it as such. It is based on reduced human intervention, that should be directed to accelerate the processes that nature would do by itself more slowly.
  • Dendrology – involves the study and identification of economically useful tree species
  • Energy forestry – includes specifically managing for the production of energy from biomass or biofuel derived from a fast-growing species of tree or woody shrub
  • Forest ecology – studies the patterns and processes of a forest ecosystem
  • Forest economics – studies the impact of economics on forest management decisions
  • Forest hydrology – embodies the effects of changes in forest land use on the movement, distribution, and quality of water in the ecosystem
  • Forest mensuration – incorporates quantitative measurements of the forest stand to determine stand timber volume and productivity/health, and provides a basis off which management decisions can be made
  • Forest pathology – research of both biotic and abiotic maladies affecting the health of the forest or tree, primarily fungal pathogens and their insect vectors
  • Silviculture – is the art and science of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests to meet specific objectives
  • Social forestry – addresses human-forest interactions, and the importance of community-based natural resource management
  • Sustainable forestry – emphasizes forest management for long-term environmental, social, and economic sustainability
  • Tropical forestry – is particularly concerned with management and conservation of forests in the tropics
  • Urban forestry – entails the care and management of urban tree populations for the purpose of improving the urban environment
  • World forestry – examines forest conservation at a global level

Forest management[edit]

Forest management – comprises the overall administrative, economic, legal, and social aspects of forest regulation

  • Analog forestry – a management focus that seeks to establish a tree-dominated ecosystem that is similar in architectural structure and ecological function to the naturally occurring climax and sub-climax vegetation community
  • Bamboo cultivation – farming and harvesting bamboo for commercial purposes such as construction.
  • Community forestry – combination of forest conservation with rural development and poverty reduction objectives, accomplished through instating a legal framework that favors profitable and sustainable forest management
  • Ecoforestry – emphasizes practices which strive to protect and restore ecosystems
  • Hardwood timber production – process of managing stands of deciduous trees to maximize woody output
  • Tree breeding – method of genetically modifying/selecting forest stock for improved growth or vigor characteristics
  • Mycoforestry – ecological forest management system implemented to enhance forest ecosystems and plant communities through the introduction of mycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungi
  • Permaforestry – approach to the wildcrafting and harvesting of the forest biomass that uses cultivation to improve the natural harmonious systems. It is a relationship of interdependence between humans and the natural systems in which the amount of biomass available from the forest increases with the health of its natural systems.
  • Plantation forestry – industrial plantations are established to produce a high volume of wood in a short period of time. Some plantations are managed by state forestry authorities (for example, the Forestry Commission in Britain) and others by paper and wood companies (such as Weyerhaeuser, Rayonier and Plum Creek Timber in the United States, Asia Pulp & Paper in Indonesia).
  • Short rotation forestry – managing a forest that utilizes fast-growing species as a bio-based energy crop for use in power stations, alone or in combination with other fuels such as coal
  • Sustainable forest management – emphasizes practices that maintain forest biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, and vitality, while continuing to fulfill relevant ecological, economic and social functions
  • Tree farm – a forest or woodland owned privately where timber crop production is a major management goal

Types of trees and forests[edit]

Geography of forests[edit]

Map of biomes[edit]

This map shows the locations of forest biomes (taiga, etc.) in relation to the other biomes of the world.

Occupations in forestry[edit]

  • Arborist – professional responsible for the maintenance of individual trees in an urban forest
    Two USFS foresters discussing firefighting tactics.
    also called a tree surgeon.
  • Donkey puncher was the operator of a small steam donkey, a machine used in logging in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Fire lookout – person assigned to spot for fires/smoke atop a fire lookout tower
  • Forest ecologist – studies patterns, processes, flora and fauna in forest ecosystems
  • Forest economist – model and analyze economic aspects of forest growth, utilization, and conservation
  • Forest engineercivil engineer specializing in all aspects of timber and forest operations, including road-building, railways, log transport, etc.
  • Forest ranger – responsible for managing and policing human use of the forest; sometimes also acts as educator and interpreter
  • Forest sociologist – applied social scientist working with a wide variety of stakeholders interested in forests
  • Forest technician – individual primarily responsible for the marking of timber sales and on-ground land management, often requires a two-year Associate of Science degree
  • Forester – professional chiefly responsible for the management of forests, requires a Bachelor of Science degree in most countries
    • Master forester – forestry expert responsible for forest management and training
  • Hotshot crew/Handcrew – a group of wildland firefighters specialized in fire suppression tactics
  • Lumberjack – the typical feller of trees and harvester of the lumber, duties can also include:
  • Log bucking – delimbing and partitioning of trees into logs
  • Log driving – transportation of logs on a river or lake downstream to the mill
  • Log scaling – measurement of felled trees to determine the volume of wood going to the manufacturer
  • Resin extractor – laborer who extracts resin from pine trees
  • Rubber tapper – laborer who extracts natural rubber from tropical rubber trees
  • Smokejumper – firefighters who parachute into remote areas to fight wildland fires
  • Timber cruiser – responsible for assessing forest growth, health, and valuation
  • Tree planters – help reestablish forests after logging, fires, and other events and circumstances

Silvicultural methods[edit]

Natural regeneration of Acer platanoides in northern France, surrounded by woody and herbaceous competition.
Clearcuts in the foreground and background at Rattlesnake Mountain, Montana.

Silviculture – practice of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests to meet diverse needs and values. Silviculture also focuses on making sure that the treatment(s) of forest stands are used to preserve and to better their productivity.

Site preparation

  • Controlled burn – use of fire in order to eliminate weeds, brush, or slash, or to release on-site seeds of fire-dependent species
  • Stump harvesting – removal of tree stumps either for biomass or to free up space in the soil
  • Drum chopping – knocking down small trees and brush to clear the ground for planting


  • Broadcast seeding – scattering of seed either by hand or mechanically over a relatively large area
  • Aerial seeding – dispersing of seed from an aircraft, used especially in mountainous areas
  • Treeplanting – transplanting of juvenile seedlings into the ground at a predetermined spacing

Intermediate treatments

  • Weeding – removal or reduction of herbaceous or woody species around seedlings
  • Cleaning – removal of competing saplings of similar age in order to favor saplings of desirable growth characteristics
  • Liberation cutting – removal of older and established overtopping trees from desirable saplings
  • Thinning – removal of trees to favor the growth of select trees in order to maximize timber production
  • Ecological thinning – removal of trees to favor the growth of select trees in order to favor the development of wildlife habitat
  • Pruning – removal of the lateral branches on the trees in order to improve wood quality
  • Pollarding – annual removal of lateral branches or main stem in order to encourage growth of branches to provide for firewood, or fruit production

Harvest rotations

  • Clearcutting – harvesting of all stems in a given area regardless of species and size
  • Coppicing – cutting vigorous juvenile trees near the ground, regeneration comes from new shoots coming up from the stump
  • Seed-tree – cutting of all trees save widely spaced residual trees, which will provide natural seedstock for the following generation and are later cut
  • Selection – harvesting of selected trees in a stand, removing either merchantable timber or to favor the growth of desirable individuals (a thinning)
  • Shelterwood – removal of merchantable trees in succession, establishing a multiaged stand
  • Variable retention – removal of trees of varying density across a landscape, in order to retain structural diversity
  • Other
  • Salvage logging – harvesting of trees killed by natural disturbances in order to maximize economic returns that would otherwise be lost
  • Sanitation harvest – removal of individual trees affected by a pathogen in order to diminish the possibility the entire stand being affected
  • Biomass harvest – harvesting of small wood for energy purposes, either following a commercial harvest or for its own sake, such as in energy forestry
  • Underwater logging – harvesting of trees from underwater forests flooded during construction of artificial dams or reservoirs

Environmental issues pertaining to forests[edit]

  • Afforestation – the process of establishing a forest on previously unforested land, for reasons of timber harvesting, conservation of biodiversity, or soil decontamination, among many
    Illegal logging in Cambodia.
  • Biodiversity conservation – examines forests broader role in supporting a variety of (socio)ecological systems
  • Carbon sequestration – focus on forests' broader ecological functioning in consumption of carbon dioxide
  • Conservation – focus on sustainability of forest resources and preservation of forest-based biodiversity
  • Deforestation – the removal of trees in a forested area without sufficient regeneration, resulting in desertification in arid areas and loss of habitat and biodiversity
  • Ecological restoration – the role of trees in restoring degraded natural and built environments
  • Flood control – addresses forests ecological role in natural regulation of rainfall
  • Forest dieback – where trees on the periphery of a stand are killed by acid rain or parasites
  • Forest fragmentation – occurring when forests are cut down in a manner that leaves relatively small, isolated patches of forest, resulting in high amounts of edges and subsequent loss in wildlife habitat and biodiversity
  • Forest transition – shift from a period of net forest area loss (deforestation) to a period of net forest area gain (afforestation) for a given region or country
  • High grading – type of selective logging that removes the highest timber quality trees, resulting in poor genetic stock for subsequent generations
  • Illegal logging – the unlawful harvest, transportation, purchase or sale of timber, contributing to deforestation, corruption, and destabilization of international markets

Forest resource assessment[edit]

Forest inventory – systematic collection of data and forest information for assessment or analysis. An estimate of the value and possible uses of timber is an important part of the broader information required to sustain ecosystems.

Timber metrics[edit]

Figure demonstrating the ocular trigonometric principles behind the Biltmore stick.
  • Diameter at breast height (DBH) – measurement of a tree's diameter standardized at 1.3 meters (about 4.5 feet) above the ground
  • Basal area – defines the area of a given section of land that is occupied by the cross-section of tree trunks and stems at their base
  • Tree taper – the degree to which a tree's stem or bole decreases in diameter as a function of height above ground
  • Girard form class – an expression of tree taper calculated as the ratio of diameter inside the bark at 16 feet above ground to that outside the bark at DBH, primary expression of tree form used in the United States
  • Quadratic mean diameter – diameter of the tree that coordinates to the stand's basal area
  • Leaf Area Index – the ratio of total upper leaf surface of the forest canopy divided by the surface area of the land on which the vegetation grows
  • Tools
  • Biltmore stick – utilizes ocular trigonometry to quickly measure diameter and height
  • Diameter tape – cloth or metal tape that is wrapped around the bole, scaled to diameter
  • Caliper – two prongs connected to a measuring tape are placed around the most average part of the bole to determine diameter
  • Relascope – multiple-use tool that is able to find tree height, basal area, and tree diameter anywhere along the bole
  • Clinometer – common tool used to measure changes in elevation and tree height
  • Cruising rod – similar to a caliper, calculates the number of pieces of lumber yielded by a given piece of timber by measuring its diameter
  • Hemispherical photography – estimates solar radiation and characterize plant canopy structure/density using photographs taken looking upward through an extreme wide-angle lens

Surveying techniques[edit]

  • Traversing – method of surveying used to establish sampling plots along a line or path of travel
    A wedge prism showing a borderline tree.
  • Chain – equivalent to 66 feet, widely used distance in surveying practices in the United States and other countries influenced by imperial Great Britain
  • Line plot survey – plots taken at a regular predetermined distance along the traverse path
  • Tools
  • Pacing – quick method used to survey in the field, requiring calibration of one's "paces" (pair of footsteps) to a known distance (often a chain)
  • Hand compass – a compact magnetic compass with a sighting device used to determine the location of plots for a given bearing
  • Wedge prism – optical instrument typically made of glass ground at slight angles to refract light passing through it from the smaller width side of the prism to the thicker width side of the prism, calibrated to a desired plot size (basal area factor)
  • Angle gauge – similar in principle to a wedge prism, although it must be held a fixed distance from the eye
  • GPS – global satellite navigation systems used to determine the position of oneself and plots
  • GIS – an information system capable of integrating, storing, analyzing, and displaying forest geographic information collected in the field

Timber volume determination[edit]

An increment borer with common drinking straws, a cost-effective manner often used to hold derived cores.
  • Site index – a species specific measure of site productivity and management options, reported as the height of dominant and co-dominant trees (site trees)in a stand at a base age such as 25, 50 and 100 years
  • Stocking – a quantitative measure of the area occupied by trees relative to an optimum or desired level of density which varies according to management purpose even on the same site
  • Stand Density Index – a measure of the stocking of a stand of trees based on the number of trees per unit area and DBH of the tree of average basal area
  • Volume table – a chart based on volume equations that uses correlations between certain aspects of a tree to estimate the standing volume
  • Stand density management diagram – model that uses current stand density to project future stand composition
  • Units of measurement
  • Cord – very common measure, equivalent to 128 cubic feet (3.62 m3), corresponding to a pile of wood, bark, and air 4 feet wide by 4 feet high and 8 feet long
  • Stère – invented in France, equivalent to a cubic meter of cut wood with space for air
  • Board foot – specialized unit of measure for lumber in North America, equivalent to the volume of a one foot length of a board one foot wide and one inch thick

Stand growth assessment[edit]

  • Increment borer – specialized tool used to extract a section of wood tissue from a living tree with relatively minor injury to the tree, used often for tree growth analysis
  • Mean annual increment (MAI) – refers to the average growth per year a tree or stand of trees has exhibited at a specific age
  • Periodic annual increment (PAI) – describes the average annual change in tree diameter between the beginning and ending of a growth period, used more often than MAI for percental growth
  • Ecological yield -the amount of wood volume in any given year whose harvesting would be considered sustainable
  • Growth and yield modelling – entails the creation of models of prospective tree growth and harvest yield for management purposes
  • Economics
  • Stumpage – the price charged by a land owner to loggers for the right to harvest standing timber on that land
  • Optimal rotation age – the age at which the harvesting of stumpage will generate the maximum revenue or economic yield


A cable logging setup in Germany (1988).

Logging – cutting, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or logs onto trucks or skeleton cars. The term is sometimes used in a narrow sense to mean moving wood from the stump to somewhere outside the forest, usually a sawmill or a lumber yard. However, in common usage, the term may be used to indicate a range of forestry or silviculture activities...

Harvesting methods[edit]

The boom of a cut-to-length harvester with attached chainsaw cutting Pinus sylvestris in Finland.
  • Felling – process of cutting down a tree
  • Bucking – splitting of a felled and delimbed trees into logs
  • Scaling – measurement of felled trees to determine the volume of merchantable wood
  • Skidding – transportation of logs from the site of felling to the landing along the ground
  • Forwarding – transportation of logs from the site of felling to the landing above the ground, usually to minimize soil disturbance but limits the size or amount of logs that can be moved at once
  • Hauling – long-distance transportation of logs from the landing to their final destination, usually with a semi-truck but occasionally with a train
  • Woodchipping – grinding of logs into chips for engineered wood, mulch, paper, or fuel
  • Cut-to-length logging (CTL) – an expensive but efficient system where trees are felled, delimbed, and bucked to scale directly at the felling site
  • Cable logging – skidding using a wire cable attached to the felled trees, most common in areas with steep topographic relief, variations include
  • Shovel logging – transport of multiple logs close to the logging road using a stationary loader, often used to minimize soil disturbance
  • Heli-logging – transport of logs from the forest to the landing via helicopter, most commonly used in inaccessible areas or to minimize impact on the soil
  • Log driving – transportation of individual logs on a waterway to a mill or port downstream
  • Timber rafting – transportation downstream of multiple logs bundled together into a raft, considered less dangerous than log driving

Harvesting tools[edit]

Timber felling tools[edit]

A loader lifting logs off a semi at Port Chalmers, within the city of Dunedin, New Zealand.
Timber rafts being floated into the city of Shlisselburg, in northwestern Russia (1909).
  • Hand
  • Axe – primitive tool used felling and splitting
  • Chainsaw – portable mechanized all-purpose saw, the most common tool used in hand-felling
  • Crosscut saw – saws that have teeth that are designed to cut wood at a right angle to the direction of the wood grain, used for felling and bucking
  • Bucksaw – a type of crosscut saw used by one or two people to buck felled trees into sawlogs
  • Mechanized
  • Feller buncher – vehicle with an attachment that can rapidly cut and gather several smaller trees before felling them
  • Harvester – first half of the CTL system, vehicle that cuts, delimbs, and bucks the logs "to length"

Log transportation tools[edit]

  • Ground
  • Peavey – a traditional tool consisting of a wooden lever handle with a movable metal hook with a sharp tip, used to spear the log for handling and moving
  • Cant Hook – tool with the same premise as the peavey but with blunt teeth-bearing tip
  • Yarder – in cable logging, a piece of equipment utilizing a pulley system of cables to pull or fly logs from the stump to the landing
  • Forwarder – second half of the CTL system, the vehicle that carries logs clear off the ground from the felling site to the roadside landing
  • Skidder – vehicle that drags logs along the ground from the felling site to the roadside landing
  • Michigan logging wheels – historical skidder, consisting of a specially designed large set of wooden wagon wheels and could be used in unfrozen soil conditions
  • Skid cone – a steel or plastic cone placed on the end of a log while being skidded, in order to ease its transportation or protect residual trees
  • Water
  • Splash dam – a dam built to temporarily raise the water level of a river to float timber downstream
  • Flume – chutes specifically constructed to transport lumber and logs down mountainous terrain to a sawmill by using flowing water.
  • Timber slide – chutes constructed parallel to a river in order to avoid damage to timber rafts caused by rapids or waterfalls
  • Boom – barriers placed in a river, designed to collect and or contain floating logs felled from nearby forests

Forest products[edit]

A harvest landing with slash/biomass on the left, followed by pulpwood and sawlogs in Espoo, Finland.

Forest product – any material derived from a forest for direct consumption or commercial use, such as lumber, paper, or forage for livestock. Wood is by far the dominant forest product, used for fuel (as firewood or charcoal), structural materials in the construction of buildings, or as a raw material, such as wood pulp used in the production of paper. All non-wood products derived from forest resources are called non-timber forest products.

Primary forest products[edit]

Production of oriented strand board.
  • Lumber (also "timber") – structural material for the construction of buildings or furniture making
  • Paper – made from wood pulp derived from the timber stock pulpwood
  • Paperboard – a thick packaging material derived from paper, cardboard is the generic term
  • Veneer – thin layers of high-quality wood, often decorative but also the primary product in plywood
  • Multilaminar veneer – like veneer, but utilizes plantation wood in accordance with the principles of sustainable forest management
  • Oriented strand board – mainly used in structural insulated panels, has largely replaced plywood
  • Fiberboard – a cheaper and denser form of plywood, used when cost is considered most important. Often used as the underlying structure in car dashboards
  • Drywall – a gypsum plaster placed inside two sheets of paper, used commonly as the finishing step in construction of interior walls and ceilings
  • Wood-plastic composite – made from recycled materials, is crack- and split-resistant and used commonly outdoors

Secondary forest products[edit]

The distinctive bark of Quercus suber, from which natural cork is derived.

History of forestry[edit]

History of forestry, by period[edit]

Ancient forestry[edit]

"Winter forest," painting by Kwok Hei (郭熙), Song Dynasty, China

Early modern forestry[edit]

Former Academy of Mining and Forestry, Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia
Elephant logging in Burma, 1945

Modern forestry[edit]

Heli-logging near Wellington, NZ, 2005

Contemporary forestry[edit]

Urban forestry, Durham, North Carolina, 2008

History of forestry institutions[edit]

History of forestry law[edit]

United States
Hong Kong

History of forestry agencies[edit]

History of forestry organizations[edit]

European Forest Institute, Central European Regional Office, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

History of forestry organizations

Students from the Biltmore Forest School (USA), inspecting a forest rail line in Germany, c. 1912
Historic schools of forestry[edit]

List of historic schools of forestry

History of forestry as a profession[edit]

Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, canopy walk

History of forestry research[edit]

History of forestry conferences[edit]

History of forestry science and technology[edit]

Forestry education[edit]

Forestry organizations[edit]

Governmental forestry agencies[edit]

International forestry organizations[edit]

Forestry publications[edit]

Notable people[edit]

Allied fields[edit]

Increment borer cores of Pinus sylvestris, whose varying rates of annual tree growth are in response to external environmental conditions.
  • Botany – study of plant life and development that explains the biological basis of trees, such as structure, growth, reproduction, metabolism, response to disease, and chemical properties
  • Conservation biology – conscientious management of forests can preserve or enhance biodiversity of dependent species
  • Dendrochronology – method of scientific dating based on the analyses of tree-ring growth patterns, analysis of long-lived individual trees can provide insight into climatic conditions of the past
  • Ecology – whose principles are the main scientific basis of forestry
  • Ecophysiology – study of an organism's physiology to environmental conditions that explains the success of a particular tree species' growth, reproduction, survival, and abundance
  • Forest history – documents natural and human history of forests and forest use
  • Natural resource management – brings together planning, management, conservation and sustainability of human use of natural resources, including forests
  • Rural sociology – studies human perceptions, interactions and use of forests and associated resources
  • Soil science – physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil greatly determines the success of tree species and individuals

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "SAFnet Dictionary | Definition For [forestry]". Dictionaryofforestry.org. 2008-10-22. Archived from the original on 2013-10-19. Retrieved 2014-03-15.
  2. ^ Albion, Robert Greenhalgh (1926). Forests and Sea Power: the Timber Problem of the Royal Navy, 1652-1862. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781557500212.
  3. ^ Fernow, B.E. (1 February 1918). "Forestry and the War". Journal of Forestry. Society of American Foresters. 16 (2): 149–154. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012.
  4. ^ Whitford, N.H. (1 May 1918). "Tropical Forests and the War". Journal of Forestry. Society of American Foresters. 16 (5): 507–522. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012.
  5. ^ Teplyakov, V.K. 1998. A History of Russian Forestry and Its Leaders. Diane Publishing, p.59
  6. ^ Leslie, Alf. 1989. "Obituary: Jack C. Westoby, C.M.G., 1913-1988," New Zealand Forestry, August, p.28. Archived 2014-09-29 at the Wayback Machine Accessed: May 7, 2012.

External links[edit]