Forests have been a natural resource that humans have depended on for millions of years. Today, forests are also one of the most “endangered” natural resource. We are cutting down about 13 million hectares of forest per year all over the world. Asia has the lowest forest cover in the world; less than 20% of […]
This one starts off from a series of thoughts that I had long shelved back in the dusty cupboards of my mind. It was while I was inching towards the end of my graduate degree in forestry that these questions first crossed my mind, what do Forests really denote? What does Forestry actually mean? It was like I wasn’t really satisfied with the answers I already knew to them. I then set my mind upon gaining some exposure in this chosen field of mine for the sake of some clarity and obviously to emerge out from being the frog in the well. Well, it did yield me some clarity and then I left it at that.
Years were gone quickly and I am now in the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun. Like many others, I too like to refer to it as the ‘Mecca of Indian Forestry’. The earlier thought sets started raising their hoods once again.
We were having our classes in the subject of Forest Health and Vitality when the course teacher quite coincidentally popped a question about defining Forests and surprisingly it got assigned to me and to a fellow classmate to bring to the fore classical definitions of a forest.
Being nothing more than a beginner in the art and science of Forestry, I naturally couldn’t come up with anything unique or extraordinary. I did look it up on the web and in a few worthwhile books. I have just noted whatever I came across, below.
If we cannot define it, we cannot save it.
Why do we need to define Forests?
- To interpret legally as to what constitutes a forest, and to differentiate it from other land uses.
- To assess the forest cover or growing stock of a particular ecosystem or a country.
- To classify forests based on type, form, composition, latitude, altitude etc.,
- To understand and asses the goods and services that the forests provide.
- To protect and conserve forests and its diversity of poulations, species and ecosystems.
- To prescribe sustainable forest management practices
- To assess the carbon sequestrated or sequestration capacity of the forests.
- To assess the CO2 emissions on account of degradation or deforestation
- To encourage investments in the forestry sector
- To assist in policy and planning framework in management of country’s forest resources
Google: A large area covered chiefly with trees and undergrowth. Syn: woodland
Historical – An area typically owned by the sovereign and partly wooded, kept for hunting and having its own laws.
Word Origin – Latin ‘Foris’ meaning outside the village habitation.
Late Latin ‘Forestis Silva’ meaning (outside) wood
English / Old French ‘Forest’ for wooded area kept aside for hunting.
Wikipedia: – A community of trees.
- Large area of land covered with trees or other woody vegetation.
Indian Context: There is no definition of the word “Forest” in two important national acts of forests i.e Indian Forest Act 1927, and Forest Conservation Act 1980.
Local Forest Act (Meghalaya) namely “The United Khasi & Jaintia Hills Autonomous District (Management and Control of Forests) Act 1958” has a definition of forest, for the purpose of management of forests of that locality, the section 2 (f) of which says, “Forest” means and shall be deemed to be a forest, if in the area there are reasonable no. trees, say, not less than twenty five per acre reserved or any other forest produce growing on such area, which have been or are capable of being exploited for purposes of business or trade.
Principles and Practices of Indian Silviculture, Dwivedi AP:
- Forest is referred to the area occupied by different kinds of trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses and maintained as such.
- Forest is an area set aside for the production of timber and other produce or maintained under woody vegetation for certain indirect benefits it provides. eg: climatic and protective. (Anon, 1966)
- Ecologically, it is defined as a plant community predominantly of trees and other woody vegetation, usually with a closed canopy.
- Legally, it is an area of land proclaimed to be so under a forest law.
To summarize about forests,
- It is a land area.
- The land area should be occupied by different vegetation types essentially by trees or it is proposed to establish trees and other forms of vegetation.
- Trees to form closed/ partially closed canopy.
- Trees and other forms of vegetation are managed for obtaining forest produce/ benefits.
- It should provide shelter to wildlife, birds & fauna.
Indian State of Forest Report, 2015 (Forest Survey of India): Forest Cover refers to all lands more than 1 hectare in area with a tree canopy of more than 10 percent irrespective of landuse, ownership and legal status. It may include even orchards, bamboo, palm etc. Recorded Forest Area refers to all the geographic area recorded as forests in government records. It includes both Reserve Forests and Protected Forests and all other areas recorded as forests in revenue records or state acts or local laws.
Global Forest resources Assessment, 2015 (FAO, UN): It is the most widely accepted definition currently in vogue. It defines forests as Land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of more than 10 percent, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ. It does not include land that is predominantly under agricultural or urban land use.
1. Forest is determined both by the presence of trees and the absence of other predominant land uses. The trees should be able to reach a minimum height of 5 meters.
- Includes areas with young trees that have not yet reached but which are expected to reach a canopy cover of at least 10 percent and tree height of 5 meters or more. It also includes areas that are temporarily unstocked due to clear-cutting as part of a forest management practice or natural disasters, and which are expected to be regenerated within 5 years. Local conditions may, in exceptional cases, justify that a longer time frame is used.
- Includes forest roads, firebreaks and other small open areas; forest in national parks, nature reserves and other protected areas such as those of specific environmental, scientific, historical, cultural or spiritual interest.
- Includes windbreaks, shelterbelts and corridors of trees with an area of more than 0.5 hectares and width of more than 20 meters.
- Includes abandoned shifting cultivation land with a regeneration of trees that have, or are expected to reach, a canopy cover of at least 10 percent and tree height of at least 5 meters.
- Includes areas with mangroves in tidal zones, regardless whether this area is classified as land area or not.
- Includes rubberwood, cork oak and Christmas tree plantations.
- Includes areas with bamboo and palms provided that land use, height and canopy cover criteria are met.
- Excludes tree stands in agricultural production systems, such as fruit tree plantations, oil palm plantations, olive orchards and agroforestry systems when crops are grown under tree cover.
Note: Some agroforestry systems such as the “Taungya” system where crops are grown only during the first years of the forest rotation should be classified as forest. (FRA Working Paper 180)
UNFCCC: A Forest is a minimum area of land of 0.05-1.0 hectares with tree crown cover (or equivalent stocking level) of more than 10-30 per cent with trees with the potential to reach a minimum height of 2-5 meters at maturity in situ. A forest may consist either of closed forest formations where trees of various storey and undergrowth cover a high proportion of the ground or open forest.
Forest Conservation Act, 1980 (As interpreted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court): The word ”forest” must be understood according to its dictionary meaning. This description covers all statutorily recognized forests, whether designated as reserved, protected or otherwise for the purpose of Section 2(i) of the Forest Conservation Act. The term ‘’forest land’’ will not only include “forest” as understood in the dictionary sense, but also any area recorded as forest in the Government records irrespective of the ownership.
To Conclude, Forest is generally understood by a layman from its dictionary meaning as woodland or a large area covered with dense growth of trees and shrubs. However in defining the word ‘Forests’, different countries or regions within the countries, have different definitions keeping in view the objectives or the purposes of managing those forests. No single definition of forests would meet the requirement of all the countries, but some common workable definitions have been evolved by FAO, UNFCC etc., by including certain parameters with threshold values in the context of requirement of global efforts to mitigate the adverse effects of deforestation, environmental degradation and climate change, as they are transboundary. The threshold values of the parameters and the wordings in the definition of ‘’Forest’’ play a crucial role in legal interpretation of land use, assessment of extent of forest area or its resources locally, regionally or globally, development of policy frame work and planning, conservation and sustainable forest management.
Bottomline: The ambiguity in defining forests can become a serious bottleneck for its management in the future.
PS: The taglines and bottom line, though downright catchy and thought provoking aren’t mine. They were lifted off from a policy bulletin of ASB Partnership for Tropical Forest Margins. They are there solely because of their relevance in the content of this post. Many definitions and the Why section has been taken from the review paper on definition of forests by D. Venkateswarlu, IFS. (http://www.teriuniversity.ac.in/mct/pdf/assignment/VENKATESWARLU.pdf).
The question about Forestry would be sought out in a similar fashion, soon enough! 😉
Books, as they say are man’s next best companion after dogs. Amongst them, textbooks even though not mostly by choice do happen to hold an important cubicle all to themselves. Well written Text Books are certainly valuable to any student seeking to enrich himself with thorough knowledge. I on my part, being a student of forestry do feel happy to be sharing with you the following list of Books on various topics in Forestry with a subsequent hope of sharing with you specific contents from them when asked for. I do know for sure this might not be any big help but still one has to start somewhere. Because, in the end I know I did collect Textbooks much better than I read them.
No. of Books – 125
- Indian Forest Records – Anatomy of Commercial Timbers of South Zone – Part I, FRI
- Indian Forest Records – Anatomy of Commercial Timbers of South Zone – Part II, ICFRE
- Indian Forest Records – Anatomy of Some of the West Coast Timbers – Part I, ICFRE
- Indian Forest Records – Anatomy of Some of the West Coast Timbers – Part II, ICFRE
- Indian Forest Records – Name Changes in Common Indian Plants – Chandra & Gaur, FRI
- Troup’s – The Silviculture of Indian Trees – Vol. I
- Troup’s – The Silviculture of Indian Trees – Vol. II
- Troup’s – The Silviculture of Indian Trees – Vol. III
- Troup’s – The Silviculture of Indian Trees – Vol. IV
- Troup’s – The Silviculture of Indian Trees – Vol. VII
- Forest Flora – The Chakrata, Dehradun and Saharanpur Forest Divisions of Uttar Pradesh
- Forest Insects – Principles and Practice of Population Management – Alan A Berryman
- Forest Products and Their Utilization – Negi SS
- A Monograph on Teak – Tewari DN
- Tree Seed Management – Source, Collection and Handling Manual, Winrock Intl. & ICRAF
- Indian Forest Utilization – Vol. II, FRI & Colleges Dehradun.
- Market Monitoring of Tree Products – GSRawat & NSBisht, FRI
- Handbook of Systematic Botany – Shiva MP
- Timber Pests – Their Origin, Prevention and Cure, Timber Development Association Ldn.
- India’s Forests, Forestry and Wildlife – Negi SS
- Handbook of Forestry – Negi SS
- Textbook of Forest Taxonomy – MPSingh, MPNayar & RPRoy
- Diseases of Shade Trees – Terry A Tattar
- Forest Mensuration – Chapman and Meyer, McGrawHill Book Company
- Handbook of Animal Husbandry – Revised First Edition, ICAR
- Remote Sensing and Forest Surveys – Sharma MK
- Cooperative Extension Work – Kelsey & Hearne
- Seed Science and Technology – Lab Manual, Copeland and McDonald
- Biodiversity and Forest Genetic Resources – Tewari DN
- Elementary Manual of Indian Wood Technology – HP Brown
- Forest Nursery and Tree Husbandry – Anoop EV etal., IBD Dehradun
- Silviculture – Josef Kostler, IBD Dehradun
- Agriculture In Brief – 1966, Agril. Ministry – GOI
- Handbook of Forest Engineering – Negi SS
- Principles of Agricultural Engineering – Vol. I , Michael & Ojha
- Principles of Agricultural Engineering – Vol. II , Michael & Ojha
- Introduction to Forest Pathology – Negi SS
- Fodder Trees of India – Singh RV
- A Study in Forestry Extension – Ray GL etal.
- Botany for Degree Students – Dutta AC
- Essentials of Forestry Practice – 4th Edition, Stoddard CH &GM
- Trends in Tree Sciences – Khosla PK & Sehgal RN
- Introduction to Quantitative Genetics in Forestry – Gene Namkoong
- Physiology of Woody Plants – Kramer & Kozlowski, Academic Press Inc.
- Practice of Silviculture – David M Smith
- Fundamentals of Genetics, Singh BD
- 100 Beautiful Trees of India, Charles McCann
- Wood Science and Technology – Negi SS
- Forest Pathology – Principles and Practice in Forestry, Bimal Kumar Bakshi
- Ethnobotany – Principle and Applications, Cotton CM
- Manual of Ethnobotany – Jain SK
- Handbook of Ethnobotany – Rozario, Bera & Mukerji
- Forest Range and Policy – Dana, McGrawHill Book Company
- Approaches to Sustainable Forest Management & Biodiversity Conservation – Shiva MP
- Biodiversity and its Conservation in India – Negi SS
- Surveying and Levelling – Basak NN
- Tribology and Anthropology – Xeroxbook
- Wildlife Wealth of India – Majupuria TC
- Indian Forestry 1947- 1997, Negi SS
- Handbook of Agriculture – Revised Fifth Edition, ICAR
- Textbook of Wood Technology – Vol. 1, AJ Panshin & Carl De Zeeuw McGrawHill Book Co.
- Pedology – Concepts and Applications – J.Sehgal
- Forest Surveying – Ram Parkash
- Textbook of Dendrology – Harlow & Harrar, McGrawHill Book Company
- Forest Mensuration – Bruce & Schumacher, McGrawHill Book Company
- Introduction to American Forestry – Allen & Sharpe, McGrawHill Book Company
- Science of Wood – Perelvgin LM
- General Silviculture – Negi SS
- Handbook of Herbarium and Field Methods – Jain and Rao
- Studies of the Identification of Timbers – Alexander L Howard
- Environment and Resources of Tropical and Temperate Forests of India – Chaudhuri AB
- Forests – Elements of Silvology, RAA Oldeman
- Harvesting Timber Crops – Michell, Hagenstein & Wackerman, McGrawHill Book Co.
- Tropical Tree Crops – LK Opeke
- Teak (Tectona grandis) – Negi SS
- Agroforestry in South Asia: Problems & Applied Research Perspectives – Bentley & Khosla
- Biophysical Research for Asian Agroforestry – Avery, Cannell & Ong
- Social Science Applications in Asian Agroforestry – Burch & Parker
- Textbook of Agricultural Statistics – Rangaswamy R
- Trees for Life – Charlie π Smith
- Tropical Silviculture – Lal JB
- Indian Trees – Dietrich Brandis
- Elementary Economic Theory – Dewett & Varma, S Chand & Co.
- A Classbook of Botany – Dutta AC
- Plantation Trees – Luna RK, IBD Publishers
- Textbook of Wildlife Management – Singh SK
- Forests – The Non Wood Resources, Dwivedi AP
- Forest Engineering Without Tears – Masani Er. NJ
- Principles of Forest Entomology – Graham & Knight, McGrawHill Book Company
- Textbook of Silviculture – Dwivedi AP
- Ecology and Environment – Sharma PD
- Introduction to Forest and Shade Tree Insects – Barbosa & Wagner, AP Inc.
- Diagnosing Injury to Eastern Forest Trees – USFS & USDA
- Forest Entomology – Jha etal.
- Principles of Agronomy – Reddy and Reddy
- Entrepreneurial Development – Khanka SS
- Agroforestry – Theory and Practices, Raj Lal
- Multipurpose Trees and Shrubs – ICFRE
- Proceedings of the First Forestry Conference – D.Dun – 6-10.12.73 – Vol. I, GoI
- Proceedings of the First Forestry Conference – D.Dun – 6-10.12.73 – Vol. II, GoI
- Forest Management – Ram Parkash
- Forestry Research Extension – Challenges and Strategies, Dange & Kumar
- Forest Working Plan – Negi SS
- Handbook of Forest Protection – Negi SS
- Handbook of Forest Utilization – Mehta Tribhawan
- Plantation Forestry in India – Luna RK
- Timber Bamboo Trade Bulletin – Statistics Division, ICFRE
- Field Key to the Trees and Lianas of Evergreen Forests in Western Ghats, Ramesh and Pascal
- Manual on Forest Entomology- Sood Anil,YSPUHF Nauni Solan
- World Forestry – Negi SS
- Forest Policy and Law – Negi SS
- Forester’s Handbook – McCulloch
- Handbook on the Management of Agroforestry Research – Gordon and Bentley, Winrock Intl
- Forest Farming – Posterity for India – Douglas, Hart & Ranganathan
- A Manual For Writers (of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations) – Turabian KL
- Tribal India – Communities, Customs & Culture, Paula
- Introductory Soil Science – Das DK
- Extension Communication and Management – Ray GL
- Agroforestry – Berry Nanita, TFRI
- Familiarizing with Biodiversity –Singh Sanjay, TFRI
- Indian Forestry – New Trends
- Agricultural Economics – SubbaReddy
- Forest Tree Seed – Negi SS
- Applied Forest Tree Improvement – Zobel & Talbert
- Minor Forest Products of India – Murthy TK