Introduction

At the start of the Third Millennium the levels of public and political attention to forests, their benefits to mankind, and their management are at their highest. National and international institutions, governmental and non-governmental organizations, all forms of media and representatives of civil society are searching for socially equitable methods of managing forests to obtain all their multiple benefits. Underlying this search is the need for precise and relevant information about the forests, their uses and management together with the political and social institutions that can best effect sustainable management.

Our audience for this reference work includes libraries, governmental and non-governmental organizations, universities and individuals involved in research on forests, forest products and services, and relevant topics, local, national and international decision-making authorities and administrations, forest land-owners and other forest-dependent individuals.

The ranges of biophysical and socio-economic aspects of forests, forestry, forest products and forest services are extremely large; correspondingly, past and current research cover large numbers of scientific disciplines and policy issues. Systematic research has been undertaken for over a century in some forest sciences such as silviculture and forest management; in other topics newly emerging techniques, such as those of molecular genetics, are being developed to aid understanding of physiological and environmental characteristics of trees and forests or to assist selective breeding of trees for plantations. An Encyclopedia of Forest Science therefore has to encompass a broad spectrum of pure and applied sciences, ancient and modern technologies, and old and recent knowledge.

In this Encyclopedia we have obtained outstanding contributions of some 200 specialists covering 250 topics that have wide implications for forest conservation, management and use worldwide. Of course, it is not possible to cover every possible subject of relevance to forests but the ones selected are generally of global interest; and even if they are of local, national or regional character, they are important to all those concerned with forest management, research, education, training, policy-making or public information.

Because of the great breadth of expected readership we have asked a wide range of contributing experts to produce up to approximately 4000 words summarizing current views of their topic. The contributions are not written in the traditional form of a scientific journal article with detailed bibliographic references for all major statements. Rather each is a continuous, highly readable description based on an author's personal view of the state of knowledge in her/his area of expertise. Selected major references are given at the end of each contribution to facilitate and encourage further reading on the subject. Wherever possible photographs, other graphical illustrations and tables are used to make the material more concise and visualized. Cross-referencing between contributions and the provision of dummy entries in the table of contents facilitate a full coverage of material relevant to each topic.

Some contributions are short because it proved difficult to identify an author with the appropriate experience and willingness to write full articles. However, these may be enlarged in future editions of the Encyclopedia and in the web-based version of it. The availability of modern information technology facilitates not only the preparation of such a work but also the maintenance of its timeliness, the spreading of its availability and the ease of searching and downloading selected material.

As Editors we thank the authors for their contributions, the editorial advisors for their specialist support, and the staff of Elsevier for their prompt and effective actions that have allowed the four volumes of the Encyclopedia to be published within two years of the initial commissioning of this reference work. We hope that the Encyclopedia will prove to be a valuable tool and source of information for many years to come. In particular we hope it will encourage a growing public and a dedicated profession to understand the facts and institutions necessary for wise management, use and conservation of the world's forest resources for the equitable benefit of all mankind.

Jeffery Burley Julian Evans John A. Youngquist

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