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

Forestry is the science and craft of creating, managing, planting, using, conserving and repairing forests and woodlands for associated resources for human and environmental benefits. Forestry is practiced in plantations and natural stands. The science of forestry has elements that belong to the biological, physical, social, political and managerial sciences. Forest management plays an essential role in the creation and modification of habitats and affects ecosystem services provisioning.

Below is a structured list of topics in forestry.

Focus of forestry

  • Forest – defined as either a geographic area or delineated by the general composition of individuals;
  • Biome – ecologically defined by its forest structure, leaf types, tree spacing, and climate
General Forested Biomes
Coniferous Broadleaf and mixed Mediterranean
Coniferous Moist broadleaf Dry broadleaf
Mangroves Bogs Swamps
Urban Riparian

Branches of forestry

Forest management

Forest management – comprises the overall administrative, economic, legal, and social aspects of forest regulation

  • Tree breeding – method of genetically modifying/selecting forest stock for improved growth or vigor characteristics

Types of trees and forests

Geography of forests

Further information: List of terrestrial ecoregions (WWF)

Map of biomes

This map shows the locations of forest biomes (taiga, etc.) in relation to the other biomes of the world.

Occupations in forestry

  • Log bucking – delimbing and partitioning of trees into logs
  • Log driving – transportation of logs on a river or lake downstream to the mill
  • Log scaling – measurement of felled trees to determine the volume of wood going to the manufacturer

Silvicultural methods

A controlled burn at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Georgia.
Natural regeneration of Acer platanoides in northern France, surrounded by woody and herbaceous competition.
Clearcuts in the foreground and background at Rattlesnake Mountain, Montana.

Silviculture – practice of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests to meet diverse needs and values. Silviculture also focuses on making sure that the treatment(s) of forest stands are used to preserve and to better their productivity.

Site preparation


Intermediate treatments

Harvest rotations

  • Clearcutting – harvesting of all stems in a given area regardless of species and size
  • Coppicing – cutting vigorous juvenile trees near the ground, regeneration comes from new shoots coming up from the stump
  • Seed-tree – cutting of all trees save widely spaced residual trees, which will provide natural seedstock for the following generation and are later cut
  • Selection – harvesting of selected trees in a stand, removing either merchantable timber or to favor the growth of desirable individuals (a thinning)
  • Shelterwood – removal of merchantable trees in succession, establishing a multiaged stand
  • Variable retention – removal of trees of varying density across a landscape, in order to retain structural diversity
  • Salvage logging – harvesting of trees killed by natural disturbances in order to maximize economic returns that would otherwise be lost
  • Sanitation harvest – removal of individual trees affected by a pathogen in order to diminish the possibility the entire stand being affected
  • Biomass harvest – harvesting of small wood for energy purposes, either following a commercial harvest or for its own sake, such as in energy forestry
  • Underwater logging – harvesting of trees from underwater forests flooded during construction of artificial dams or reservoirs

Environmental issues pertaining to forests

Forest resource assessment

Forest inventory – systematic collection of data and forest information for assessment or analysis. An estimate of the value and possible uses of timber is an important part of the broader information required to sustain ecosystems.

Timber metrics

Figure demonstrating the ocular trigonometric principles behind the Biltmore stick.
  • Diameter at breast height (DBH) – measurement of a tree's diameter standardized at 1.3 meters (about 4.5 feet) above the ground
  • Basal area – defines the area of a given section of land that is occupied by the cross-section of tree trunks and stems at their base
  • Tree taper – the degree to which a tree's stem or bole decreases in diameter as a function of height above ground
  • Girard form class – an expression of tree taper calculated as the ratio of diameter inside the bark at 16 feet above ground to that outside the bark at DBH, primary expression of tree form used in the United States
  • Quadratic mean diameter – diameter of the tree that coordinates to the stand's basal area
  • Leaf Area Index – the ratio of total upper leaf surface of the forest canopy divided by the surface area of the land on which the vegetation grows
  • Tools
  • Biltmore stick – utilizes ocular trigonometry to quickly measure diameter and height
  • Diameter tape – cloth or metal tape that is wrapped around the bole, scaled to diameter
  • Caliper – two prongs connected to a measuring tape are placed around the most average part of the bole to determine diameter
  • Relascope – multiple-use tool that is able to find tree height, basal area, and tree diameter anywhere along the bole
  • Clinometer – common tool used to measure changes in elevation and tree height
  • Cruising rod – similar to a caliper, calculates the number of pieces of lumber yielded by a given piece of timber by measuring its diameter
  • Hemispherical photography – estimates solar radiation and characterize plant canopy structure/density using photographs taken looking upward through an extreme wide-angle lens

Surveying techniques

  • Traversing – method of surveying used to establish sampling plots along a line or path of travel
    A wedge prism showing a borderline tree.
  • Chain – equivalent to 66 feet, widely used distance in surveying practices in the United States and other countries influenced by imperial Great Britain
  • Line plot survey – plots taken at a regular predetermined distance along the traverse path
  • Tools
  • Pacing – quick method used to survey in the field, requiring calibration of one's "paces" (pair of footsteps) to a known distance (often a chain)
  • Hand compass – a compact magnetic compass with a sighting device used to determine the location of plots for a given bearing
  • Wedge prism – optical instrument typically made of glass ground at slight angles to refract light passing through it from the smaller width side of the prism to the thicker width side of the prism, calibrated to a desired plot size (basal area factor)
  • Angle gauge – similar in principle to a wedge prism, although it must be held a fixed distance from the eye
  • GPS – global satellite navigation systems used to determine the position of oneself and plots
  • GIS – an information system capable of integrating, storing, analyzing, and displaying forest geographic information collected in the field

Timber volume determination

An increment borer with common drinking straws, a cost-effective manner often used to hold derived cores.
  • Site index – a species specific measure of site productivity and management options, reported as the height of dominant and co-dominant trees (site trees)in a stand at a base age such as 25, 50 and 100 years
  • Stocking – a quantitative measure of the area occupied by trees relative to an optimum or desired level of density which varies according to management purpose even on the same site
  • Stand Density Index – a measure of the stocking of a stand of trees based on the number of trees per unit area and DBH of the tree of average basal area
  • Volume table – a chart based on volume equations that uses correlations between certain aspects of a tree to estimate the standing volume
  • Stand density management diagram – model that uses current stand density to project future stand composition
  • Units of measurement
  • Cord – very common measure, equivalent to 128 cubic feet (3.62 m3), corresponding to a pile of wood, bark, and air 4 feet wide by 4 feet high and 8 feet long
  • Stère – invented in France, equivalent to a cubic meter of cut wood with space for air
  • Board foot – specialized unit of measure for lumber in North America, equivalent to the volume of a one foot length of a board one foot wide and one inch thick

Stand growth assessment

  • Increment borer – specialized tool used to extract a section of wood tissue from a living tree with relatively minor injury to the tree, used often for tree growth analysis
  • Mean annual increment (MAI) – refers to the average growth per year a tree or stand of trees has exhibited at a specific age
  • Periodic annual increment (PAI) – describes the average annual change in tree diameter between the beginning and ending of a growth period, used more often than MAI for percental growth
  • Ecological yield -the amount of wood volume in any given year whose harvesting would be considered sustainable
  • Growth and yield modelling – entails the creation of models of prospective tree growth and harvest yield for management purposes
  • Stumpage – the price charged by a land owner to loggers for the right to harvest standing timber on that land
  • Optimal rotation age – the age at which the harvesting of stumpage will generate the maximum revenue or economic yield


A cable logging setup in Germany (1988).

Logging – cutting, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or logs onto trucks or skeleton cars. The term is sometimes used in a narrow sense to mean moving wood from the stump to somewhere outside the forest, usually a sawmill or a lumber yard. However, in common usage, the term may be used to indicate a range of forestry or silviculture activities...

Harvesting methods

The boom of a cut-to-length harvester with attached chainsaw cutting Pinus sylvestris in Finland.

Harvesting tools

Timber felling tools

A loader lifting logs off a semi at Port Chalmers, within the city of Dunedin, New Zealand.
Timber rafts being floated into the city of Shlisselburg, in northwestern Russia (1909).
  • Axe – primitive tool used felling and splitting
  • Chainsaw – portable mechanized all-purpose saw, the most common tool used in hand-felling
  • Crosscut saw – saws that have teeth that are designed to cut wood at a right angle to the direction of the wood grain, used for felling and bucking
  • Bucksaw – a type of crosscut saw used by one or two people to buck felled trees into sawlogs
  • Feller buncher – vehicle with an attachment that can rapidly cut and gather several smaller trees before felling them
  • Harvester – first half of the CTL system, vehicle that cuts, delimbs, and bucks the logs "to length"

Log transportation tools

  • Peavey – a traditional tool consisting of a wooden lever handle with a movable metal hook with a sharp tip, used to spear the log for handling and moving
  • Cant Hook – tool with the same premise as the peavey but with blunt teeth-bearing tip
  • Yarder – in cable logging, a piece of equipment utilizing a pulley system of cables to pull or fly logs from the stump to the landing
  • Forwarder – second half of the CTL system, the vehicle that carries logs clear off the ground from the felling site to the roadside landing
  • Skidder – vehicle that drags logs along the ground from the felling site to the roadside landing
  • Michigan logging wheels – historical skidder, consisting of a specially designed large set of wooden wagon wheels and could be used in unfrozen soil conditions
  • Skid cone – a steel or plastic cone placed on the end of a log while being skidded, in order to ease its transportation or protect residual trees
  • Splash dam – a dam built to temporarily raise the water level of a river to float timber downstream
  • Flume – chutes specifically constructed to transport lumber and logs down mountainous terrain to a sawmill by using flowing water.
  • Timber slide – chutes constructed parallel to a river in order to avoid damage to timber rafts caused by rapids or waterfalls
  • Boom – barriers placed in a river, designed to collect and or contain floating logs felled from nearby forests

Forest products

A harvest landing with slash/biomass on the left, followed by pulpwood and sawlogs in Espoo, Finland.

Further information: Wood processing

Forest product – any material derived from a forest for direct consumption or commercial use, such as lumber, paper, or forage for livestock. Wood is by far the dominant forest product, used for fuel (as firewood or charcoal), structural materials in the construction of buildings, or as a raw material, such as wood pulp used in the production of paper. All non-wood products derived from forest resources are called non-timber forest products.

Primary forest products

Main articles: Wood and Engineered wood

Production of oriented strand board.
A stack of Betula pubescens firewood in Central Ostrobothnia, Finland.

Secondary forest products

The distinctive bark of Quercus suber, from which natural cork is derived.

See also: Non-timber forest product

Forestry by region

Forestry in Africa[edit]

Forestry in the Americas[edit]

Forestry in Asia[edit]

Forestry in Europe[edit]

Forestry in Oceania[edit]

History of forestry

Main article: Forestry § History

History of forestry, by period

Ancient forestry

"Winter forest," painting by Kwok Hei (郭熙), Song Dynasty, China
  • Shifting cultivation under stress
  • Forestry in the Zhou dynasty (Chow) (1045–256 BCE)
  • Forestry in the Qin dynasty (Chin) (221–206 BCE)
  • Forestry in the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 A.D.)
  • Forestry in the Three Kingdoms (220–280 A.D.)
  • Forestry in the Jin dynasty (266–420 A.D.)
  • Forestry in the Southern and Northern dynasties (Sung) (420–589 A.D.)
  • Forestry in the Sui dynasty (581–618 A.D.)
  • Forestry in the Tang dynasty (618–907 A.D.)
  • Forestry in the Liao dynasty (907–1125 A.D.)
  • Forestry in the Song dynasty (960–1279 A.D.)
  • Forestry in the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368 A.D.)
  • Forestry in the Ming dynasty (1368–1644 A.D.)
  • Forestry in the Qing dynasty (Ch'ing) (1644–1911)
  • Forestry in the Republic of China (1912–1949)

Early modern forestry

Former Academy of Mining and Forestry, Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia
Elephant logging in Burma, 1945
  • Horse-drawn logging
  • History of forestry in Austria-Hungary
  • History of forestry in France
  • History of forestry in Germany
  • History of forestry in Russia
  • History of forestry in Sweden

Modern forestry

Heli-logging near Wellington, NZ, 2005

Contemporary forestry

Urban forestry, Durham, North Carolina, 2008
  • Forest aesthetics

History of forestry institutions

History of forestry law

See also: List of types of formally designated forests and List of environmental laws by country

United States
Hong Kong
  • Right of Way Act of 1901, USA, relating to rights of way through certain parks, reservations, and other public lands. H.R. 11973
  • Forest Rights Act (India)

History of forestry agencies

See also: List of forestry ministries

Corpo Forestale dello Stato, Italy

History of forestry organizations

European Forest Institute, Central European Regional Office, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

History of forestry organizations

Students from the Biltmore Forest School (USA), inspecting a forest rail line in Germany, c. 1912
Historic schools of forestry

See also: List of historic schools of forestry

History of forestry as a profession

Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, canopy walk

History of forestry research

See also: List of forest research institutes

History of forestry conferences

History of forestry science and technology

Forestry education

Forestry organizations

Governmental forestry agencies

International forestry organizations

Forestry publications

Notable people

Allied fields

Increment borer cores of Pinus sylvestris, whose varying rates of annual tree growth are in response to external environmental conditions.

See also


  1. ^ Albion, Robert Greenhalgh (1926). Forests and Sea Power: the Timber Problem of the Royal Navy, 1652-1862. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781557500212.
  2. ^ Fernow, B.E. (1 February 1918). "Forestry and the War". Journal of Forestry. 16 (2). Society of American Foresters: 149–154. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012.
  3. ^ Whitford, N.H. (1 May 1918). "Tropical Forests and the War". Journal of Forestry. 16 (5). Society of American Foresters: 507–522. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012.
  4. ^ Teplyakov, V.K. 1998. A History of Russian Forestry and Its Leaders. Diane Publishing, p.59
  5. ^ Leslie, Alf. 1989. "Obituary: Jack C. Westoby, C.M.G., 1913-1988," New Zealand Forestry, August, p.28. Archived 2014-09-29 at the Wayback Machine Accessed: May 7, 2012.