What is Forestry? - Definition & Types

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  • 0:04 Returning to the Woods
  • 0:50 Types of Forest Management
  • 1:08 Reforestation: Two Methods
  • 2:13 Preservation: Three Methods
  • 3:11 Other Types of Forestry
  • 4:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Patricia Jankowski

Patricia is an experienced registered nurse who has worked in various acute care areas as well as in legal nurse consulting. She also has a BSChE.

Forestry is the practice of managing forest lands for various uses, including commercial, agricultural, and public. This lesson is about forestry, its definition, and some of the types.

Returning to the Woods

Benjamin Rush, physician and author, once said, ''It would seem from this fact, that man is naturally a wild animal, and that when taken from the woods, he is never happy in his natural state, 'till he returns to them again.''

Indeed, people are and have always been attracted to the natural environment of a forest. The trees filter our air and provide nourishment and habitats for birds and wildlife that beautify our world and our lives. We get the lumber we need for our homes, for paper, and for fuels and other products, and hundreds of jobs are created by this industry. Without forests, the planet would be an arid and empty space. Forestry is the knowledge-based practice of managing the land of the forest, to be used for our protection, recreation, and for commercial and industrial uses as well.

Types of Forest Management

The goals of all forest management techniques are pretty much the same: to create a sustainable or readily maintainable forest that continues to grow and produce its wood products or provide its shelter and recreation for generations to come. This can be done in many different ways or combinations of ways.

Reforestation: Two Methods

The best time to rebuild a forest is after the harvest. Creating conditions that ensure new tree growth means that a forest will still be around for future harvests. In reforesting, often the overstory, or tallest canopy of trees, is manipulated to alter shade conditions for the remaining trees.

In even-aged forestry, all the mature trees that comprise the overstory are removed at once to create an environment that's exposed to sunlight. In this area, new trees can be planted. This method is called clearcutting. Some areas of the clear cut forest can be left alone with mature trees to provide protection for natural wildlife.

Uneven-aged forestry systems are methods that are used to regenerate forests that contain trees of varying ages and sizes after harvest. This type of forest includes seedlings as well as young and mature trees. If the species of tree requires a great deal of light, such as oak, then larger groups of trees of all sizes are removed at a time to create more light on the forest floor. When more shade is required, trees of varying sizes may be removed one at a time at intervals throughout the forest to create small patches of sunlight.

Preservation: Three Methods

Controlled burn, or prescription burning, is a method of forest preservation that involves the managed burning of parts of a forest. While this may seem counter-productive, it can actually help a forest by eliminating overgrowth and species that threaten the natural environment, such as various disease-causing insects. There are also some types of tree seeds, such as the sequoia tree, that need fire to open the seed coatings before they can begin to grow. Controlled burns also remove flammable litter that can lead to uncontrolled and very dangerous wildfires.

Selective logging is a method in which trees that meet certain criteria, such as trunk greater than a given diameter, are the only trees removed from the forest. However, this method does not make provisions for the damage created by the method itself. When the selected trees are chopped down, they fall, destroying other trees.

In reduced impact logging (RIL), there is greater planning to account for these issues. This results in less damage to the forest environment and its wildlife.

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