Forests have always played an important role in human life. They were used as a source of food, wood and fuel since prehistory, while clearance of forested areas helped increase agricultural land. However, increased pressure on the forests due to population growth in the last few centuries and reckless human activities have seriously reduced the world’s forested areas which in turn has a dramatic effect on biodiversity, landscape, soil erosion, waterways, climate and a number of other areas which affect the entire planet including the human population.
We may have emerged as the absolute master of the planet but we still heavily depend on natural resources including forests which, however, are disappearing at an alarming rate. Forestry as the science of forest management is therefore no longer only focused on use of forests in order to satisfy the demand for wood and other products which are obtained from the forests but it also pays a lot attention to conservation of forested areas and creation of systems which will satisfy the demand for natural resources without further destroying the world forests.
Despite the fact that the use of forests as a source of wood and fuel dates back thousands of years, forestry is a relatively new discipline. Schools of forestry were established in the early 18th century but modern forestry which is focused on the use of forests for human benefits in a way that has a minimal impact on forests as such emerged only in the 20th century due to the growing concerns about the loss of forested areas, especially after the development of enormous timber harvesting capacity of the logging companies. Sustainable forest management as one of the main goals of modern forestry, however, was embraced in the Western countries only in the 1980s and 1990s.
Today’s forestry deals with a broad range of concerns regarding the use of forests including preservation of forests in order to continue to provide timber to satisfy the growing demand for wood products as well as to protect wildlife and wildlife habitat, ensure community and landscape protection, help conserve biodiversity, reduce soil erosion that is related to logging, ensure quality natural water management, prevent landslides, improve safety at work and reduce human injury and loss of human life that are directly or indirectly related to forest management to the minimum as well as to help stabilise carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere because the trees absorb this greenhouse gas and release pure oxygen. Projects such as sustainable log cottages and tree houses are taking place around the South West region. Modern forestry therefore also deals with reforestation or restoration of woodland in order to increase forested areas. One of the best and most successful examples of reforestation is perhaps the United Kingdom that increased the total woodland from 5 percent as much as forests accounted for in the early 20th century to nearly 12 percent as much as forested land covers the today’s Britain.
Despite the fact that sustainable forest management has increased considerably in the last few decades, the scientific community is still concerned that forestry is not paying enough attention to sustainability. The demand for timber for wood products however, meanwhile continues to increase worldwide. Try and use only sustainable heating such as multifuel stoves and buy recycled timber products such as garden furniture made by companies who follow strict tracking and managing procedures rather than cheap and often illegal timber used by some companies.