Forest

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A conifer forest in the Swiss Alps (National Park) Swiss National Park 131.JPG
A conifer forest in the Swiss Alps (National Park)
The Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York form the southernmost part of the Eastern forest-boreal transition ecoregion, part of the world's taiga biome. Adirondacks in May 2008.jpg
The Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York form the southernmost part of the Eastern forest-boreal transition ecoregion, part of the world’s taiga biome.
Forest on Mount Dajt, Albania Zall Dajti.jpg
Forest on Mount Dajt, Albania
Share of land that is covered by forest Forest-area-as-share-of-land-area.svg
Share of land that is covered by forest

A forest is an area of land dominated by trees. [1] Hundreds of definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating factors such as tree density, tree height, land use, legal standing, and ecological function. [2] [3] [4] The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines a forest 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 use." [5] Using this definition, Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA 2020) found that forests covered 4.06 billion hectares (10.0 billion acres; 40.6 million square kilometres; 15.7 million square miles), or approximately 31 percent of the world's land area in 2020. [6]

Contents

Forests are the predominant terrestrial ecosystem of Earth, and are found around the globe. [7] More than half of the world's forests are found in only five countries (Brazil, Canada, China, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America). The largest share of forests (45 percent) are in the tropical latitudes, followed by those in the boreal, temperate, and subtropic domains. [8]

Forests account for 75% of the gross primary production of the Earth's biosphere, and contain 80% of the Earth's plant biomass. Net primary production is estimated at 21.9 gigatonnes of biomass per year for tropical forests, 8.1 for temperate forests, and 2.6 for boreal forests. [7]

Forests at different latitudes and elevations, and with different precipitation and evapotranspiration [9] form distinctly different biomes: boreal forests around the North Pole, tropical moist forests and tropical dry forests around the Equator, and temperate forests at the middle latitudes. Areas at higher elevations tend to support forests similar to those at higher latitudes, and the amount of precipitation also affects forest composition.

Almost half the forest area (49 percent) is relatively intact, while 9 percent is found in fragments with little or no connectivity. Tropical rainforests and boreal coniferous forests are the least fragmented, whereas subtropical dry forests and temperate oceanic forests are among the most fragmented. Roughly 80 percent of the world's forest area is found in patches larger than 1 million hectares (2.5 million acres). The remaining 20 percent is located in more than 34 million patches around the world – the vast majority less than 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) in size. [8]

Human society and forests influence each other in both positive and negative ways. [10] Forests provide ecosystem services to humans and serve as tourist attractions. Forests can also affect people's health. Human activities, including unsustainable use of forest resources, can negatively affect forest ecosystems. [11]

Definition

Forest in the Scottish Highlands Gate in the forest - geograph.org.uk - 1726119.jpg
Forest in the Scottish Highlands
Forest in Kuopio, Finland Kuopio forest.jpg
Forest in Kuopio, Finland

Although the word forest is commonly used, there is no universally recognised precise definition, with more than 800 definitions of forest used around the world. [4] Although a forest is usually defined by the presence of trees, under many definitions an area completely lacking trees may still be considered a forest if it grew trees in the past, will grow trees in the future, [12] or was legally designated as a forest regardless of vegetation type. [13] [14]

There are three broad categories of definitions of forest in use: administrative, land use, and land cover. [13] Administrative definitions are based primarily upon the legal designations of land, and commonly bear little relationship to its vegetation: land that is legally designated as a forest is defined as such even if no trees are growing on it. [13] Land-use definitions are based on the primary purpose that the land serves. For example, a forest may be defined as any land that is used primarily for production of timber. Under such a land-use definition, cleared roads or infrastructure within an area used for forestry—or areas that have been cleared by harvesting, disease, or fire—are still considered forests, even if they contain no trees. Land-cover definitions define forests based upon the type and density of vegetation growing on the land. Such definitions typically define a forest as an area growing trees above some threshold. These thresholds are typically the number of trees per area (density), the area of ground under the tree canopy (canopy cover) or the section of land that is occupied by the cross-section of tree trunks (basal area). [13] Under such land-cover definitions, an area of land can only be known as forest if it is growing trees. Areas that fail to meet the land-cover definition may be still included while immature trees are present that are expected to meet the definition at maturity. [13]

Under land-use definitions, there is considerable variation on where the cutoff points are between a forest, woodland, and savanna. Under some definitions, to be considered a forest requires very high levels of tree canopy cover, from 60% to 100%, [15] which excludes woodlands and savannas, which have a lower canopy cover. Other definitions consider savannas to be a type of forest, and include all areas with tree canopies over 10%. [12]

Some areas covered with trees are legally defined as agricultural areas, e.g. Norway spruce plantations, under Austrian forest law, when the trees are being grown as Christmas trees and are below a certain height.

Etymology

Since the 13th century, the Niepolomice Forest in Poland has had special use and protection. In this view from space, different coloration can indicate different functions. Niepolomice oli 2013251.jpg
Since the 13th century, the Niepołomice Forest in Poland has had special use and protection. In this view from space, different coloration can indicate different functions.

The word forest derives from the Old French forest (also forès), denoting "forest, vast expanse covered by trees"; forest was first introduced into English as the word denoting wild land set aside for hunting [17] without necessarily having trees on the land. [18] Possibly a borrowing, probably via Frankish or Old High German, of the Medieval Latin foresta, denoting "open wood", Carolingian scribes first used foresta in the capitularies of Charlemagne, specifically to denote the royal hunting grounds of the king. The word was not endemic to the Romance languages, e.g., native words for forest in the Romance languages derived from the Latin silva, which denoted "forest" and "wood(land)" (cf. the English sylva and sylvan; the Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese selva; the Romanian silvă; the Old French selve). Cognates of forest in Romance languages—e.g., the Italian foresta, Spanish and Portuguese floresta, etc.—are all ultimately derivations of the French word.

A forest near Vinitsa, North Macedonia The forest near Blatets, Vinitsa.JPG
A forest near Vinitsa, North Macedonia

The precise origin of Medieval Latin foresta is obscure. Some authorities claim the word derives from the Late Latin phrase forestam silvam, denoting "the outer wood"; others claim the word is a latinisation of the Frankish *forhist, denoting "forest, wooded country", and was assimilated to forestam silvam, pursuant to the common practice of Frankish scribes. The Old High German forst denoting "forest"; Middle Low German vorst denoting "forest"; Old English fyrhþ denoting "forest, woodland, game preserve, hunting ground" (English frith ); and Old Norse fýri, denoting "coniferous forest"; all of which derive from the Proto-Germanic *furhísa-, *furhíþija-, denoting "a fir-wood, coniferous forest", from the Proto-Indo-European *perkwu-, denoting "a coniferous or mountain forest, wooded height" all attest to the Frankish *forhist.

Uses of forest in English to denote any uninhabited and unenclosed area are presently considered archaic. [19] The Norman rulers of England introduced the word as a legal term, as seen in Latin texts such as the Magna Carta , to denote uncultivated land that was legally designated for hunting by feudal nobility (see Royal Forest). [19] [20]

Tywi Forest, Wales Tywi Forest road, Ceredigion - geograph.org.uk - 1510647.jpg
Tywi Forest, Wales

These hunting forests did not necessarily contain any trees. However, because hunting forests often included significant areas of woodland, forest eventually came to connote woodland in general, regardless of tree density.[ citation needed ] By the beginning of the fourteenth century, English texts used the word in all three of its senses: common, legal, and archaic. [19] Other English words used to denote "an area with a high density of trees" are firth, frith, holt, weald, wold, wood, and woodland. Unlike forest, these are all derived from Old English and were not borrowed from another language. Some present classifications reserve woodland for denoting a locale with more open space between trees, and distinguish kinds of woodlands as open forests and closed forests, premised on their crown covers. [21] Finally, sylva (plural sylvae or, less classically, sylvas) is a peculiar English spelling of the Latin silva, denoting a "woodland", and has precedent in English, including its plural forms. While its use as a synonym of forest, and as a Latinate word denoting a woodland, may be admitted; in a specific technical sense it is restricted to denoting the species of trees that comprise the woodlands of a region, as in its sense in the subject of silviculture. [22] The resorting to sylva in English indicates more precisely the denotation that the use of forest intends.

Evolutionary history

The first known forests on Earth arose in the Late Devonian (approximately 380 million years ago), with the evolution of Archaeopteris , [23] which was a plant that was both tree-like and fern-like, growing to 10 metres (33 ft) in height. It quickly spread throughout the world, from the equator to subpolar latitudes; [23] and it formed the first forest by being the first species known to cast shade due to its fronds and by forming soil from its roots. Archaeopteris was deciduous, dropping its fronds onto the forest floor, the shade, soil, and forest duff from the dropped fronds creating the first forest. [23] The shed organic matter altered the freshwater environment, slowing its flow and providing food. This promoted freshwater fish. [23]

Ecology

Temperate rainforest in Tasmania's Hellyer Gorge Hellyer Gorge, Tasmania.jpg
Temperate rainforest in Tasmania's Hellyer Gorge

Forests account for 75% of the gross primary productivity of the Earth's biosphere, and contain 80% of the Earth's plant biomass. [7]

The world's forests contain about 606 gigatonnes of living biomass (above- and below-ground) and 59 gigatonnes of dead wood. The total biomass has decreased slightly since 1990, but biomass per unit area has increased. [24]

Forest ecosystems can be found in all regions capable of sustaining tree growth, at altitudes up to the tree line, except where natural fire frequency or other disturbance is too high, or where the environment has been altered by human activity.

The latitudes 10° north and south of the equator are mostly covered in tropical rainforest, and the latitudes between 53°N and 67°N have boreal forest. As a general rule, forests dominated by angiosperms (broadleaf forests) are more species-rich than those dominated by gymnosperms (conifer, montane, or needleleaf forests), although exceptions exist.

Forests sometimes contain many tree species within a small area (as in tropical rainforests and temperate deciduous forests), or relatively few species over large areas (e.g., taiga and arid montane coniferous forests). Forests are often home to many animal and plant species, and biomass per unit area is high compared to other vegetation communities. Much of this biomass occurs below ground in the root systems and as partially decomposed plant detritus. The woody component of a forest contains lignin, which is relatively slow to decompose compared with other organic materials such as cellulose or carbohydrate.

The biodiversity of forests varies considerably according to factors such as forest type, geography, climate, and soils – in addition to human use. [25] Most forest habitats in temperate regions support relatively few animal and plant species, and species that tend to have large geographical distributions, while the montane forests of Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, and lowland forests of Australia, coastal Brazil, the Caribbean islands, Central America, and insular Southeast Asia have many species with small geographical distributions. [25] Areas with dense human populations and intense agricultural land use, such as Europe, parts of Bangladesh, China, India, and North America, are less intact in terms of their biodiversity. [25] Northern Africa, southern Australia, coastal Brazil, Madagascar, and South Africa are also identified as areas with striking losses in biodiversity intactness. [25]

Components

Even, dense old-growth stand of beech trees (Fagus sylvatica) prepared to be regenerated by their saplings in the understory, in the Brussels part of the Sonian Forest. Brussels Zonienwoud.jpg
Even, dense old-growth stand of beech trees ( Fagus sylvatica ) prepared to be regenerated by their saplings in the understory, in the Brussels part of the Sonian Forest.

A forest consists of many components that can be broadly divided into two categories: biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living). The living parts include trees, shrubs, vines, grasses and other herbaceous (non-woody) plants, mosses, algae, fungi, insects, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and microorganisms living on the plants and animals and in the soil.

Layers

Biogradska forest in Montenegro Biogradska suma.jpg
Biogradska forest in Montenegro
Spiny forest at Ifaty, Madagascar, featuring various Adansonia (baobab) species, Alluaudia procera (Madagascar ocotillo) and other vegetation Spiny Forest Ifaty Madagascar.jpg
Spiny forest at Ifaty, Madagascar, featuring various Adansonia (baobab) species, Alluaudia procera (Madagascar ocotillo) and other vegetation

A forest is made up of many layers. The main layers of all forest types are the forest floor, the understory, and the canopy. The emergent layer, above the canopy, exists in tropical rainforests. Each layer has a different set of plants and animals, depending upon the availability of sunlight, moisture, and food.

However, in botany and in many countries (Germany, Poland, etc.), a different classification of forest vegetation is often used: tree, shrub, herb, and moss layers (see stratification (vegetation)).

Types

A dry sclerophyll forest in Sydney, which is dominated by eucalyptus trees. Prospectcreek.jpg
A dry sclerophyll forest in Sydney, which is dominated by eucalyptus trees.
Proportion and distribution of global forest area by climatic domain, 2020 Proportion and distribution of global forest area by climatic domain, 2020.svg
Proportion and distribution of global forest area by climatic domain, 2020

Forests are classified differently and to different degrees of specificity. One such classification is in terms of the biomes in which they exist, combined with leaf longevity of the dominant species (whether they are evergreen or deciduous). Another distinction is whether the forests are composed predominantly of broadleaf trees, coniferous (needle-leaved) trees, or mixed.

The number of trees in the world, according to a 2015 estimate, is 3 trillion, of which 1.4 trillion are in the tropics or sub-tropics, 0.6 trillion in the temperate zones, and 0.7 trillion in the coniferous boreal forests. The 2015 estimate is about eight times higher than previous estimates, and is based on tree densities measured on over 400,000 plots. It remains subject to a wide margin of error, not least because the samples are mainly from Europe and North America. [28]

Forests can also be classified according to the amount of human alteration. Old-growth forest contains mainly natural patterns of biodiversity in established seral patterns, and they contain mainly species native to the region and habitat. In contrast, secondary forest is forest regrowing following timber harvest and may contain species originally from other regions or habitats. [29]

Different global forest classification systems have been proposed, but none has gained universal acceptance. [30] UNEP-WCMC's forest category classification system is a simplification of other, more complex systems (e.g. UNESCO's forest and woodland 'subformations'). This system divides the world's forests into 26 major types, which reflect climatic zones as well as the principal types of trees. These 26 major types can be reclassified into 6 broader categories: temperate needleleaf, temperate broadleaf and mixed, tropical moist, tropical dry, sparse trees and parkland, and forest plantations. [30] Each category is described in a separate section below.

Temperate needleleaf

Temperate needleleaf forests mostly occupy the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, as well as some warm temperate areas, especially on nutrient-poor or otherwise unfavourable soils. These forests are composed entirely, or nearly so, of coniferous species (Coniferophyta). In the Northern Hemisphere, pines Pinus , spruces Picea , larches Larix , firs Abies , Douglas firs Pseudotsuga , and hemlocks Tsuga make up the canopy; but other taxa are also important. In the Southern Hemisphere, most coniferous trees (members of Araucariaceae and Podocarpaceae) occur mixed with broadleaf species, and are classed as broadleaf-and-mixed forests. [30]

Temperate broadleaf and mixed

Broadleaf forest in Bhutan Namdapha2.jpg
Broadleaf forest in Bhutan

Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests include a substantial component of trees of the Anthophyta group. They are generally characteristic of the warmer temperate latitudes, but extend to cool temperate ones, particularly in the southern hemisphere. They include such forest types as the mixed deciduous forests of the United States and their counterparts in China and Japan; the broadleaf evergreen rainforests of Japan, Chile, and Tasmania; the sclerophyllous forests of Australia, central Chile, the Mediterranean, and California; and the southern beech Nothofagus forests of Chile and New Zealand. [30]

Tropical moist

There are many different types of tropical moist forests, with lowland evergreen broad-leaf tropical rainforests: for example várzea and igapó forests and the terra firma forests of the Amazon Basin; the peat swamp forests; dipterocarp forests of Southeast Asia; and the high forests of the Congo Basin. Seasonal tropical forests, perhaps the best description for the colloquial term "jungle", typically range from the rainforest zone 10 degrees north or south of the equator, to the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. Forests located on mountains are also included in this category, divided largely into upper and lower montane formations, on the basis of the variation of physiognomy corresponding to changes in altitude. [31]

Tropical dry

Tropical dry forests are characteristic of areas in the tropics affected by seasonal drought. The seasonality of rainfall is usually reflected in the deciduousness of the forest canopy, with most trees being leafless for several months of the year. However, under some conditions, e.g. less fertile soils or less predictable drought regimes, the proportion of evergreen species increases and the forests are characterised as "sclerophyllous". Thorn forest, a dense forest of low stature with a high frequency of thorny or spiny species, is found where drought is prolonged, and especially where grazing animals are plentiful. On very poor soils, and especially where fire or herbivory are recurrent phenomena, savannas develop. [30]

Sparse trees and savanna

Taiga forest near Saranpaul in the northeast Ural Mountains, Khanty-Mansia, Russia. Trees include Picea obovata (dominant on right bank), Larix sibirica, Pinus sibirica, and Betula pendula. Urals forest.jpg
Taiga forest near Saranpaul in the northeast Ural Mountains, Khanty–Mansia, Russia. Trees include Picea obovata (dominant on right bank), Larix sibirica , Pinus sibirica , and Betula pendula .

Sparse trees and savanna are forests with sparse tree-canopy cover. They occur principally in areas of transition from forested to non-forested landscapes. The two major zones in which these ecosystems occur are in the boreal region and in the seasonally dry tropics. At high latitudes, north of the main zone of boreal forestland, growing conditions are not adequate to maintain a continuously closed forest cover, so tree cover is both sparse and discontinuous. This vegetation is variously called open taiga, open lichen woodland, and forest tundra. A savanna is a mixed woodlandgrassland ecosystem characterized by the trees being sufficiently widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer that consists primarily of grasses. Savannas maintain an open canopy despite a high tree density. [30]

Forest plantations

Forest plantations are generally intended for the production of timber and pulpwood. Commonly mono-specific, planted with even spacing between the trees, and intensively managed, these forests are generally important as habitat for native biodiversity. However, they can be managed in ways that enhance their biodiversity protection functions and they can provide ecosystem services such as maintaining nutrient capital, protecting watersheds and soil structure, and storing carbon. [29] [30]

Forest area

The annual net loss of forest area has decreased since 1990, but the world is not on track to meet the target of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests to increase forest area by 3 percent by 2030. [25]

While deforestation is taking place in some areas, new forests are being established through natural expansion or deliberate efforts in other areas. As a result, the net loss of forest area is less than the rate of deforestation; and it, too, is decreasing: from 7.8 million hectares (19 million acres) per year in the 1990s to 4.7 million hectares (12 million acres) per year during 2010–2020. [25] In absolute terms, the global forest area decreased by 178 million hectares (440 million acres; 1,780,000 square kilometres; 690,000 square miles) between 1990 and 2020, which is an area about the size of Libya. [25]

Societal significance

Redwood tree in northern California redwood forest, where many redwood trees are managed for preservation and longevity, rather than being harvested for wood production Redwood M D Vaden.jpg
Redwood tree in northern California redwood forest, where many redwood trees are managed for preservation and longevity, rather than being harvested for wood production
Burned forest on Thasos Verbrannter Wald, Thasos.jpg
Burned forest on Thasos

Forests provide a diversity of ecosystem services including:

Some researchers state that forests do not only provide benefits, but can in certain cases also incur costs to humans. [37] [38] Forests may impose an economic burden, [39] [40] diminish the enjoyment of natural areas, [41] reduce the food-producing capacity of grazing land [42] and cultivated land, [43] reduce biodiversity, [44] [45] reduce available water for humans and wildlife, [46] [47] harbour dangerous or destructive wildlife, [37] [48] and act as reservoirs of human and livestock disease. [49] [50]

Forest management

The management of forests is often referred to as forestry. Forest management has changed considerably over the last few centuries, with rapid changes from the 1980s onward, culminating in a practice now referred to as sustainable forest management. Forest ecologists concentrate on forest patterns and processes, usually with the aim of elucidating cause-and-effect relationships. Foresters who practice sustainable forest management focus on the integration of ecological, social, and economic values, often in consultation with local communities and other stakeholders.

Priest River winding through Whitetail Butte with lots of forestry to the east--these lot patterns have existed since the mid-19th century. The white patches reflect areas with younger, smaller trees, where winter snow cover shows up brightly to the astronauts. Dark green-brown squares are parcels Checkerboard forest in Idaho.jpg
Priest River winding through Whitetail Butte with lots of forestry to the east—these lot patterns have existed since the mid-19th century. The white patches reflect areas with younger, smaller trees, where winter snow cover shows up brightly to the astronauts. Dark green-brown squares are parcels

Humans have generally decreased the amount of forest worldwide. Anthropogenic factors that can affect forests include logging, urban sprawl, human-caused forest fires, acid rain, invasive species, and the slash and burn practices of swidden agriculture or shifting cultivation. The loss and re-growth of forests lead to a distinction between two broad types of forest: primary or old-growth forest and secondary forest. There are also many natural factors that can cause changes in forests over time, including forest fires, insects, diseases, weather, competition between species, etc. In 1997, the World Resources Institute recorded that only 20% of the world's original forests remained in large intact tracts of undisturbed forest. [51] More than 75% of these intact forests lie in three countries: the boreal forests of Russia and Canada, and the rainforest of Brazil.

According to Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020, an estimated 420 million hectares (1.0 billion acres) of forest have been lost worldwide through deforestation since 1990, but the rate of forest loss has declined substantially. In the most recent five-year period (2015–2020), the annual rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares (25 million acres), down from 12 million hectares (30 million acres) annually in 2010–2015. [24]

China instituted a ban on logging, beginning in 1998, due to the erosion and flooding that it caused. [52] In addition, ambitious tree-planting programmes in countries such as China, India, the United States, and Vietnam – combined with natural expansion of forests in some regions – have added more than 7 million hectares (17 million acres) of new forests annually. As a result, the net loss of forest area was reduced to 5.2 million hectares (13 million acres) per year between 2000 and 2010, down from 8.3 million hectares (21 million acres) annually in the 1990s. In 2015, a study for Nature Climate Change showed that the trend has recently been reversed, leading to an "overall gain" in global biomass and forests. This gain is due especially to reforestation in China and Russia. [53] However, new forests are not completely equivalent to old growth forests in terms of species diversity, resilience, and carbon capture. On 7 September 2015, the FAO released a new study stating that over the last 25 years the global deforestation rate has decreased by 50% due to improved management of forests and greater government protection. [54] [55]

Proportion of forest in protected areas, by region, 2020 Proportion of forest in protected areas, by region, 2020.svg
Proportion of forest in protected areas, by region, 2020

There is an estimated 726 million hectares (1.79 billion acres) of forest in protected areas worldwide. Of the six major world regions, South America has the highest share of forests in protected areas, at 31 percent. The area of such areas globally has increased by 191 million hectares (470 million acres) since 1990, but the rate of annual increase slowed in 2010–2020. [24]

Smaller areas of woodland in cities may be managed as urban forestry, sometimes within public parks. These are often created for human benefits; Attention Restoration Theory argues that spending time in nature reduces stress and improves health, while forest schools and kindergartens help young people to develop social as well as scientific skills in forests. These typically need to be close to where the children live.

Canada

Garibaldi Provincial Park, British Columbia Garibaldi National Park - Garibaldi Mountain.jpg
Garibaldi Provincial Park, British Columbia

Canada has about 4 million square kilometres (1.5 million square miles) of forest land. More than 90% of forest land is publicly owned and about 50% of the total forest area is allocated for harvesting. These allocated areas are managed using the principles of sustainable forest management, which include extensive consultation with local stakeholders. About eight percent of Canada's forest is legally protected from resource development. [56] [57] Much more forest land—about 40 percent of the total forest land base—is subject to varying degrees of protection through processes such as integrated land use planning or defined management areas, such as certified forests. [57]

By December 2006, over 1.2 million square kilometres (460,000 square miles) of forest land in Canada (about half the global total) had been certified as being sustainably managed. [58] Clearcutting, first used in the latter half of the 20th century, is less expensive, but devastating to the environment; and companies are required by law to ensure that harvested areas are adequately regenerated. Most Canadian provinces have regulations limiting the size of clear-cuts, although some older clear-cuts can range upwards of 110 square kilometres (42 sq mi) in size, which was cut over several years.

The Canadian Forest Service is the government department which looks after Forests in Canada.

Latvia

Latvian Pine Forest in Kegums Municipality Latvian Forest Tomes pagasts, Keguma novads, Latvia.jpg
Latvian Pine Forest in Ķegums Municipality

Latvia has about 3.27 million hectares (8.1 million acres; 12,600 square miles) of forest land, which equates to about 50.5% of Latvia's total area of 64,590 square kilometres (24,938 sq mi)1.51 million hectares (3.7 million acres) of forest land (46% of total forest land) is publicly owned and 1.75 million hectares (4.3 million acres) of forest land (54% of the total) is in private hands. Latvia's forests have been steadily increasing over the years, which is in contrast to many other nations, mostly due to the forestation of land not used for agriculture. In 1935, there were only 1.757 million hectares (4.34 million acres) of forest; today this has increased by more than 150%. Birch is the most common tree at 28.2%, followed by pine (26.9%), spruce (18.3%), grey alder (9.7%), aspen (8.0%), black alder (5.7%), oak/ash (1.2%), with other hardwood trees making up the rest (2.0%). [59] [60]

United States

In the United States, most forests have historically been affected by humans to some degree, though in recent years improved forestry practices have helped regulate or moderate large-scale impacts. However, the United States Forest Service estimates a net loss of about 2 million hectares (4.9 million acres) between 1997 and 2020; this estimate includes conversion of forest land to other uses, including urban and suburban development, as well as afforestation and natural reversion of abandoned crop and pasture land to forest. However, in many areas of the United States, the area of forest is stable or increasing, particularly in many northern states. The opposite problem from flooding has plagued national forests, with loggers complaining that a lack of thinning and proper forest management has resulted in large forest fires. [61] [62]

Largest forests in the world

Largest forests in the world
ForestAreaCountries
Amazon rainforest 5,500,000 km2 (2,100,000 sq mi) Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela
Congo Rainforest 2,000,000 km2 (770,000 sq mi) Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon
Atlantic Forest 1,315,460 km2 (507,900 sq mi) Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay
Valdivian Temperate Rainforest 248,100 km2 (95,800 sq mi) Chile, Argentina
Tongass National Forest 68,000 km2 (26,000 sq mi) United States
Rainforest of Xishuangbanna 19,223 km2 (7,422 sq mi) China
Sunderbans 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi) India, Bangladesh
Daintree Rainforest 1,200 km2 (460 sq mi) Australia
Kinabalu Park 754 km2 (291 sq mi) Malaysia

See also

Sources

Definition of Free Cultural Works logo notext.svg  This article incorporates text from a free content work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 License statement/permission . Text taken from Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 Key findings , FAO, FAO. To learn how to add open license text to Wikipedia articles, please see this how-to page. For information on reusing text from Wikipedia, please see the terms of use.

Definition of Free Cultural Works logo notext.svg  This article incorporates text from a free content work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 License statement/permission . Text taken from The State of the World’s Forests 2020. In brief – Forests, biodiversity and people , FAO & UNEP, FAO & UNEP. To learn how to add open license text to Wikipedia articles, please see this how-to page. For information on reusing text from Wikipedia, please see the terms of use.

Related Research Articles

Deforestation Conversion of forest to non-forest for human use

Deforestation or forest clearance is the removal of a forest or stand of trees from land that is then converted to non-forest use. Deforestation can involve conversion of forest land to farms, ranches, or urban use. The most concentrated deforestation occurs in tropical rainforests. About 31% of Earth's land surface is covered by forests at present. This is one-third less than the forest cover before the expansion of agriculture, a half of that loss occurring in the last century. Between 15 million to 18 million hectares of forest, an area the size of Bangladesh, are destroyed every year. On average 2,400 trees are cut down each minute.

Rainforest Type of forest with high rainfall

Rainforests are characterized by a closed and continuous tree canopy, moisture-dependent vegetation, the presence of epiphytes and lianas and the absence of wildfire. Rainforest can be classified as tropical rainforest or temperate rainforest, but other types have been described.

Temperate coniferous forest Forests found in areas with warm summers and cool winters

Temperate coniferous forest is a terrestrial biome defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature. Temperate coniferous forests are found predominantly in areas with warm summers and cool winters, and vary in their kinds of plant life. In some, needleleaf trees dominate, while others are home primarily to broadleaf evergreen trees or a mix of both tree types. A separate habitat type, the tropical coniferous forests, occurs in more tropical climates.

Tropical forest Generic forest in the tropics

Tropical forests are forested landscapes in tropical regions: i.e. land areas approximately bounded by the tropic of Cancer and Capricorn, but possibly affected by other factors such as prevailing winds.

Tropical rainforest Forest in areas with heavy rainfall in the tropics

Tropical rainforests are rainforests that occur in areas of tropical rainforest climate in which there is no dry season – all months have an average precipitation of at least 60 mm – and may also be referred to as lowland equatorial evergreen rainforest. True rainforests are typically found between 10 degrees north and south of the equator ; they are a sub-set of the tropical forest biome that occurs roughly within the 28-degree latitudes. Within the World Wildlife Fund's biome classification, tropical rainforests are a type of tropical moist broadleaf forest that also includes the more extensive seasonal tropical forests.

Old-growth forest Forest that has attained great age without significant disturbance

An old-growth forest – also termed primary forest, virgin forest, late seral forest, primeval forest or first-growth forest – is a forest that has attained great age without significant disturbance and thereby exhibits unique ecological features and might be classified as a climax community. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations defines primary forests as naturally regenerated forests of native tree species where there are no clearly visible indications of human activity and the ecological processes are not significantly disturbed. More than one-third of the world’s forests are primary forests. Old-growth features include diverse tree-related structures that provide diverse wildlife habitat that increases the biodiversity of the forested ecosystem. Virgin forests are old-growth forests that have never been logged. The concept of diverse tree structure includes multi-layered canopies and canopy gaps, greatly varying tree heights and diameters, and diverse tree species and classes and sizes of woody debris.

Agroforestry Land use management system

Agroforestry is a land use management system in which trees or shrubs are grown around or among crops or pastureland. Trees produce a wide range of useful and marketable products from fruits/nuts, medicines, wood products, etc. This intentional combination of agriculture and forestry has multiple benefits, such as greatly enhanced yields from staple food crops, enhanced farmer livelihoods from income generation, increased biodiversity, improved soil structure and health, reduced erosion, and carbon sequestration. Agroforestry practices are highly beneficial in the tropics, especially in subsistence smallholdings in sub-Saharan Africa and have been found to be beneficial in Europe and the United States.

Secondary forest Forest or woodland area which has re-grown after a timber harvest

A secondary forest is a forest or woodland area which has re-grown after a timber harvest or clearing for agriculture, until a long enough period has passed so that the effects of the disturbance are no longer evident. It is distinguished from an old-growth forest, which has not recently undergone such disruption, and complex early seral forest, as well as third-growth forests that result from harvest in second growth forests. Secondary forest regrowing after timber harvest differs from forest regrowing after natural disturbances such as fire, insect infestation, or windthrow because the dead trees remain to provide nutrients, structure, and water retention after natural disturbances. However, often after natural disturbance the timber is harvested and removed from the system, in which case the system more closely resembles secondary forest rather than seral forest.

A temperate forest is a forest found between the tropical and boreal regions, located in the temperate zone. It is the second largest biome on our planet, covering 25% of the world's forest area, only behind the boreal forest, which covers about 33%. These forests cover both hemispheres at latitudes ranging from 25 to 50 degrees, wrapping the planet in a belt similar to that of the boreal forest. Due to its large size spanning several continents, there are several main types: deciduous, coniferous, mixed forest, and rainforest.

An evergreen forest is a forest made up of evergreen trees. They occur across a wide range of climatic zones, and include trees such as conifers and holly in cold climates, eucalyptus, Live oak, acacias and banksia in more temperate zones, and rainforest trees in tropical zones.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and guide to forestry:

From year 2000 to 2005, Nigeria had the highest rate of deforestation in the world as 55.7% according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). Nigeria has biodiversity in abundance which makes it thrive consideringly well. In 1950s, large areas of land were quite reserved as a protected area but unfortunately they no longer exist. Biodiversity has been greatly destroyed by deforestation, degradation, encroachment and conversion of land into other uses due to the increase in demand of the fast rising population in the country.

Forests of the United States Overview of the forests of the United States

It has been estimated that before European settlement, forests in the United States mainland, covered nearly 1 billion acres (4,000,000 km2). Since the mid-1600s, about 300 million acres (1,200,000 km2) of forest have been cleared, primarily for agriculture during the 19th century."

Deforestation by continent

Rates and causes of deforestation vary from region to region around the world. In 2009, 2/3 of the world's forests were located in just 10 countries: 1) Russia, 2) Brazil, 3) Canada, 4) The United States, 5) China, 6) Australia, 7) The Democratic Republic of the Congo, 8) Indonesia, 9) India, and 10) Peru.

Conservation in India

Conservation in India can be traced to the time of Ashoka, tracing to the Ashoka Pillar Edicts as one of the earliest conservation efforts in the world. Conservation generally refers to the act of carefully and efficiently using natural resources. Conservation efforts begun in India before 5 AD, as efforts are made to have a forest administration. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is the ministry responsible for implementation of environmental and forestry program in India, which include the management of national parks, conservation of flora and fauna of India, and pollution controls.

Forest restoration

Forest restoration is defined as “actions to re-instate ecological processes, which accelerate recovery of forest structure, ecological functioning and biodiversity levels towards those typical of climax forest” i.e. the end-stage of natural forest succession. Climax forests are relatively stable ecosystems that have developed the maximum biomass, structural complexity and species diversity that are possible within the limits imposed by climate and soil and without continued disturbance from humans. Climax forest is therefore the target ecosystem, which defines the ultimate aim of forest restoration. Since climate is a major factor that determines climax forest composition, global climate change may result in changing restoration aims.

Deforestation and climate change Relationship between deforestation and global warming

Deforestation is a primary contributor to climate change. Land use changes, especially in the form of deforestation, are the second largest anthropogenic source of atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions, after fossil fuel combustion. Greenhouse gases are emitted during combustion of forest biomass and decomposition of remaining plant material and soil carbon. Global models and national greenhouse gas inventories give similar results for deforestation emissions. As of 2019, deforestation is responsible for about 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon emissions from tropical deforestation are accelerating. Peatland degradation also emits GHG. Growing forests are a carbon sink with additional potential to mitigate the effects of climate change. Some of the effects of climate change, such as more wildfires, may increase deforestation. Deforestation comes in many forms: wildfire, agricultural clearcutting, livestock ranching, and logging for timber, among others. The vast majority of agricultural activity resulting in deforestation is subsidized by government tax revenue. Forests cover 31% of the land area on Earth and annually 75,700 square kilometers of the forest is lost. According to the World Resources Institute, there was a 12% increase in the loss of primary tropical forests from 2019 to 2020. Mass deforestation continues to threaten tropical forests, their biodiversity, and the ecosystem services they provide. The main area of concern of deforestation is in tropical rain forests since they are home to the majority of the planet's biodiversity.

Vegetation classification is the process of classifying and mapping the vegetation over an area of the earth's surface. Vegetation classification is often performed by state based agencies as part of land use, resource and environmental management. Many different methods of vegetation classification have been used. In general, there has been a shift from structural classification used by forestry for the mapping of timber resources, to floristic community mapping for biodiversity management. Whereas older forestry-based schemes considered factors such as height, species and density of the woody canopy, floristic community mapping shifts the emphasis onto ecological factors such as climate, soil type and floristic associations. Classification mapping is usually now done using geographic information systems (GIS) software.

Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA)

The Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) reports on the status and trends of the world's forest resources. It is led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Forest cover is the amount of land area that is covered by forest. It may be measured as relative or absolute. Around a third of the world's surface is covered with forest, with closed-canopy forest accounting for 4 - 5 billion hectares of land.

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