Origins

People have been using forests for millennia, but not until the nineteenth century did forest science emerge as a discipline. It developed in Europe in response to concerns about wood shortages and has helped turn human use of forests from exploitative to regenerative. The early interest in sustaining yields of wood led to decades of scholarly research on the growth requirements of selected tree species and the development of silvicultural systems to regenerate them after harvest. As human demands on forests expand to include consumptive and nonconsumptive uses of many goods and services, forest science continues to inform management practices, and vice versa. This mutual influence is revealed in the various terms, like ecological forest management, that have arisen over time and in different places to describe a science-based approach to managing forests. The terms may change, but this essence remains.

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