After reading this essay you will learn about:- 1. Definition of Forestry 2. Elements of Forestry 3. Types.
Definition of Forestry:
Forestry-loosely defined as the systematic management and use of forests and their natural resources for human benefit—has been practiced for centuries. Most often, forestry efforts have been initiated in response to indiscriminate timber cutting that denuded the land and caused erosion, floods or a shortage of wood products.
Forestry programme is a scheme of planting trees in areas that require them, so that the ecological balance is set right in that area. Forestry programmes can be initiated by the state or by individual groups like NGOs.
The main aim of this scheme is to regenerate forests in areas which are devoid of it, and to bring the ratio of the total forest cover to 33% thereby protecting and providing habitat to many species of fauna and flora.
Forestry and Economics:
Forestry, as a science is developing at a fast rate in many nations and India is still lagging behind in this science, in terms of research and development. Economics, as a social science plays a great role in the forestry programmes, from analyzing the viability of the project in any area, to fixing up the cost and benefit schedules.
The inclusion of Economics into the realm of Forestry makes it evident that all the forestry programmes are to be taken up only on commercial basis, thus giving a consideration for the funds allocated to it, which in essence is the people’s money.
Forestry is not a separate branch of study by itself, but it is highly interdisciplinary in its approach. What Mrs. Indira Gandhi said would make the point clear: “Forestry is no longer a simple science, requiring only some botanical skills. It is increasingly becoming a complex science, involving numerous disciplines like genetics, zoology, biology, soil sciences, geology, ecology, and not the least economics”.
Elements of Forestry:
Today, the paradigm has changed from conservation to sustainability, and in terms of forestry efforts too, the in-thing now is Sustainable Forestry. Modern forestry has its basis in the 18th-century Germany. Like the Chinese and the Mayan forest practices, German forestry is essentially agricultural.
Trees are managed as a crop. Two concepts are important: renewability and sustainability. Renewability means that trees can be replanted and seeded and harvested over and over again on the same tract of land in what are known as crop “rotations.”
Sustainability means that forest harvest can be sustained over the long term. How far into the future were foresters expected to plan? As long as there were vast acres of virgin (original) forests remaining, this question was somewhat academic. Today, however, sustainability is a vital issue in forestry. Most of the world’s virgin forests are gone and people must rely more and more on managed forests.
There are ten elements of sustainable forestry:
(i) Forest regeneration will maintain and/or restore the aesthetics, vitality, structure and functioning of the natural processes of forest ecosystem and its components.
(ii) Forest practices will maintain and/or restore the surface and groundwater quality, quantity, including aquatic habitat.
(iii) Forest practices will maintain and/or restore natural processes of soil fertility, productivity and stability.
(iv) Forest practices will maintain and/or restore a natural balance in the diversity of native species of the area for long-term health of the ecosystem.
(v) Natural regeneration of the native plants to protect the natural gene pool.
(vi) No usage of chemical fertilizers.
(vii) Local employment for the rural people with occupational safety for the workers.
(viii) Protection of the sites of archeological, cultural and historical significance.
(ix) Ensure scientific forest management.
(x) Carry out research in forestry and take decision on the basis of forestry research.
Types of Forestry:
I. Ancient Forestry Practices:
In ancient Persia (now Iran), forest protection and nature conservation laws were in effect as early as 1,700 B.C. Two thousand years ago the Chinese practiced what they called “four sides” forestry—trees were planted on house side, village side, road side, and waterside.
More than 1,000 years ago, Japanese maharajahs brought in teak and began to cultivate it. In the African Tropics, agroforestry (growing of food crops in association with trees) has been practiced for hundreds of years.
II. Methods of Forestry:
There are two major methods in forestry, that are followed:
a) Harvest-Regeneration Methods:
Three examples of timber harvest-regeneration methods (silvi-cultural systems) illustrate how foresters manage stands to produce timber on a sustained basis.
Individual trees or small groups of trees are harvested as they become mature. Numerous small openings in the forest are created in which saplings or new seedlings can grow. The resulting forest has a continuous forest canopy and trees of all ages. Such systems favour slow-growing species that are shade tolerant.
In clearcutting, an entire stand of trees is removed in one operation. From the forester’s point of view, clearcutting is the easiest way to manage a forest—and the most economical. Regeneration may come from sprouts on stumps, from seedlings that survive the logging operation, or from seeds that germinate after the harvest. If natural regeneration is delayed longer than desired, the area is planted or seeded.
Clearcutting as a systems are often used to manage fast-growing species that require a lot of light. Resulting stands are even aged because all the trees in an area are cut—and regenerated—at the same time.
Clearcutting has become controversial in recent years because it has the potential to damage watersheds and because it tends to eliminate species of wildlife dependent on old growth trees. If clear-cuts are kept small and the cutting interval is long enough, however, biological diversity may not be impaired.
(iii) Shelter wood:
In shelter wood system, the forest canopy is removed over a period of years, usually in two cuttings. After the first harvest, natural regeneration begins in the understory.
By the time the second harvest is made, enough young trees have grown to assure adequate regeneration. Shelter wood systems favour species that are intermediate in tolerance to shade. Such systems are difficult to use successfully and are the least used of the three silvi-cultural methods described.
b) Multiple-Use Forestry:
Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, was U.S.A.’s first professional forester. Pinchot advocated the use of forest resources—all resources, not just timber—for human benefit. National Forests are still managed under the concepts of multiple use and sustained yield.
The dominant uses of National Forests are considered to be wood, water, wildlife, forage (for domestic cattle and wildlife), and recreation. Extraction of minerals and other valuable products is also considered a legitimate use of National Forests.