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Forestry And Its Broader Goals

Forestry is a science, but also somewhat of an art. The ultimate objective of forestry is to design and implement management systems by which forested landscapes can yield sustainable flows of a range of ecological goods and services. The most important of the resource values dealt with in forestry are products directly associated with tree biomass, such as lumber, paper, and fuel-wood. However, non-tree resource values are also important, and these must be co-managed by foresters in conjunction with the traditional industrial products.

In many respects, forestry is analogous to agricultural science, and foresters are akin to farmers. Forestry and agriculture both deal with the harvesting and management of ecological systems, and both are seeking optimized, sustainable yields of economically important, biological commodities. However, compared with forestry, agriculture deals with a greater diversity of economic species and biological products, a wider range of harvesting and management systems (most of which are much more intensive than in forestry), and relatively short harvesting rotations (usually annual). Still, the goals of forestry and agriculture are conceptually the same.

Another shared feature of forestry and agriculture is that both cause substantial ecological changes to sites and the larger landscape. The various activities associated with forestry and agriculture are undertaken in particular sites. However, in aggregate these places are numerous, and therefore entire landscapes are affected. Inevitably, these activities result in substantial ecological changes, many of which represent a significant degradation of the original ecological values. For example, populations of many native species may be reduced or even extirpated, the viability of natural communities may be placed at risk through their extensive conversion to managed ecosystems, erosion is often caused, the environment may become contaminated with pesticides and fertilizers, and aesthetics of the landscape may be degraded. One of the most important challenges to both forestry and agriculture is to achieve their primary goals of maintaining sustainable harvests of economically important commodities, while keeping the associated environmental degradations within acceptable limits.

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