Science History

History of Forestry

Forestry work in Austria

Our world is home to many natural resources, which we can find on land or underwater.  Some of the incredible works of nature are found on land deep in the woods or forests. All of us might be aware of what a forest is, but it does have more complex features than it seems.

Forests cover a wide area of land, which is full of trees, and it is home to several animal species.Furthermore, it comes in various forms, wherein it varies from tree density, tree height, land use, legal standing, and ecological function. Despite the different looks, all of our planet’s forests serve a common role in preserving and helping the environment.

Interestingly, the vastness of forests covers up to roughly four billion hectares of land, which is approximately thirty percent of the Earth’s land area. This size is enormous enough to help sustain life on Earth. It is because forests consist of a lot of trees, which helps in providing oxygen for us to breathe. There are many other benefits of forests in our world, but one thing is for sure, they do help us and our environment.

Moreover, despite the incredible benefits of forests, they are gradually decreasing in size each year. That is why scientists developed ways to conserve and manage our forests to help keep our environment healthy. Furthermore, the study of forests is a common practice in science; wherein some scientists devote to understanding its properties to utilize forests more efficiently.

This field of science is called forestry, and in this article, we are going to look into its definition. Furthermore, what is the history behind this branch of science?

What is Forestry?

Timber harvesting in Finland

Forestry is the branch of study devoted to creating, managing, using, conserving, and repairing forests, as well as woodlands. It aims to build knowledge of utilizing forests for the benefit of the environment and humans.

It also requires knowledge in some branches of science, such as biology, ecology, botany, and many others. Furthermore, forestry covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • Provision of timber
  • Fuel Wood
  • Wildlife habitat
  • Natural water quality management
  • Recreation
  • Landscape and community protection
  • Employment
  • Aesthetically appealing landscapes
  • Biodiversity management
  • Watershed management
  • Erosion control
  • Forest preservation as ‘sinks’ for atmospheric carbon dioxide

Forestry plays an essential role in the development of some countries, such as Germany. Wherein forestry is an important part of their industry, which offers more than million of jobs to Germans each year.

What is the origin of forestry?

Now that we already have a brief knowledge of forestry let us now look into its history. We can trace back the origins of forestry to the preindustrial age, which took place from hundreds of years. This period was often coined as the ‘wooden age’ since, during this time, the demand for timber and firewood were considered as basic resources. People used to rely on the use of such wooden products in energy, construction, and housing.

Over the years, our world experienced extreme deforestation, which made a significant impact on the environment. This event led to a wood shortage in some places, caused by over usage of timber, along with the improper management of forests. It raised concerns to some countries, which resulted in some places developing early methods to preserve our planet’s forests.

Interestingly, the more systematic method of managing the forests started in Portugal during the 13th century. It was when Alfonso III of Portugal planted Pinhal do Rei near Leira – a city in the Centro Region of Portugal. The main purpose of the Pinhal do Rei was to prevent coastal erosion and soil degradation; furthermore, it could also be an excellent source of timber used in naval construction.

The science of forestry made a breakthrough in the 18th century, which was often considered to have started the development of modern scientific forestry. France was the country that made the early scientific advances in forestry, in which its aim was to centralize the management of professional foresters, as well as develop ways to produce and conserve fuelwood and timber more effectively.

Throughout the years, more scientists and environmental advocates established better methods to conserve, utilize, manage, as well as repair our forests. In our modern world, forestry still serves an essential field of science to help preserve our environment for future generations.

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