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The New International Encyclopædia/Forestry

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FORESTRY (from ML. foresteria, forestaria, forestage, from foresta, forest). The economic management of trees as communities. It is distinct from arboriculture, which is more strictly concerned with the individual tree. Forestry looks to the conservation and utilization of the various forest products in order that the greatest returns may be obtained. It may apply to the planting of a new forest or the preservation of an old one, the reforestation of a mountain-side, the prevention of ruthless forest destruction, or the utilization of the forest products as a crop. The uses of a forest are to supply timber, fuel, etc.; to offer protection against winds; to conserve moisture, by storing up water or at least by checking its loss by seepage and evaporation; and to minister to the enjoyment of man in providing parks, game-covers, etc. In many new countries forests are considered detrimental to the growth of the varied interests upon which the new community is dependent, and they are removed as rapidly as possible. In old ones the lack of forests is keenly felt in various ways, and attempts have been made to restore, in part, the former wooded areas.

History. In some form, forestry has been practiced in Europe for several centuries. The growing scarcity of timber and fuel began to be felt in England early in the sixteenth century, and attempts were made to supply the failing resources by making new plantations and by more scientific cutting of the native growth. About the beginning of the eighteenth century plantings were begun in Scotland and later in Ireland; now the artificially planted areas exceed the natural ones. About this time there was great activity in the introduction of foreign species of forest trees, many of which were so well adapted to their new conditions that in places there are today more exotic than native trees. In France, Belgium, Germany, and other parts of Europe extensive areas of forests are now under systems of management that result in increasing rather than in decreasing production. Old native forests have been cared for, and denuded areas reforested. Governmental, communal, and private forests alike are so managed as to provide the various objects for which they were designed. In Germany and France the management of forests has received the greatest attention, and has been most systematically and scientifically conducted. Government schools are maintained for the education of skilled foresters, and special attention is paid this important subject.

Forestry in the United States. Forest regulation did not for a time seem as necessary in the United States, with its great forest wealth, as in Europe. However, with the destructive methods of lumbering and the enormous waste by forest fires, the supply has been so encroached upon that means have been taken to repair the damage and to provide against its continuance. Various States have enacted laws designed to correct the former abuses by granting bounties for tree-planting and remission of taxes upon purely forest areas. The general Government has also attempted to aid by laws providing for the acquirement of land upon the condition of planting a portion to trees. Since the laws enacted by the general Government were improperly prepared, interpreted, and enforced, and have resulted in little good, they have been repealed. The greatest good has probably come from the reservation of extensive areas about the watersheds and sources of some great rivers. There were in 1899 36 forest reserves in the United States, embracing more than 46,000,000 acres. They are as follows: Grand Cañon, San Francisco, Black Mesa, and Prescott in Arizona; Pecos and Gila River in New Mexico; Stanislaus, Sierra Forest, Lake Tahoe, Pine Mountain, Zaca Lake, San Bernardino, San Gabriel, San Jacinto, and Trabuco Cañon in California; Battlement Mesa, Pike's Peak, Plum Creek, South Platte, and White River in Colorado; Fish Lake and Uintah in Utah; Bitter Root and Priest River, in Idaho; Bitter Root, Flathead, Lewis and Clark, and Gallatin, in Montana; Cascade, Bull Run, and Ashland, in Oregon; Black Hills, Teton, Yellowstone, and Big Horn, in South Dakota and Wyoming; and Priest River, Olympic, and Mount Rainier, in Washington. In addition there are a number of State reserves, the object of which is mainly to prevent the too rapid escape of water in floods, and the succeeding periods of scanty water-supply for irrigation and other uses. They are situated at the sources of water-supplies, and are patroled to insure their safety against marauders and fires.

Forest Trees. Forests are of two kinds, pure and mixed. The former are less common than the latter, and are usually, though not always, composed of coniferous trees. One advantage of a pure forest is the greater ease in lumbering; one disadvantage is its liability to destruction by drought, insects, diseases, etc. Among species adapted to pure forests are pines, spruce, silver fir, Douglas fir, beech and maple. Those doing best in mixed woods are larch, birch, poplar, ash, oak, chestnut, and walnut. Mixed forests can be grown, and often are grown as a series of small colonies devoted to single species, but for general purposes mixed woods are most satisfactory. Since the requirements of different species differ as to light, moisture, and soil, the trees of mixed forests protect each other, and the forest floor, as the ground is called, better than those of pure forests.

Reforestation. Forests when once depleted are restocked in several ways. Although the setting out of young trees is one of the most expensive methods of restocking, it has been practiced to some extent in the plains region of the United States, and extensively in England. The seeds are sown and the young trees reared in nurseries where the peculiar requirements of the seedlings can be carefully met. After a growth of several seasons the trees are set in the places where they are to grow. Where the surface of the land will permit, they are often cultivated like any other crop until they attain a size sufficient to care for themselves. Frequently, too, crops of corn are grown in the spaces between the rows. While expensive, this method is best adapted to the conditions in the prairie region of the western United States. A second method is that of hand-seeding the region designed for the future forest. This method is followed in many places, but the difficulties of collecting and caring for the seed prior to seeding are so groat as to make this method unsatisfactory. Natural seeding is largely depended upon to restock scientifically managed forests, occasional seed-bearing trees being left for the purpose. In some places the practice of thinning out the growth is followed to give the new stock of seedlings the air and light they require. Lastly, sprouts or suckers from the stumps and roots of trees that have been cut are often used for restocking. This method will apply only to such broad-leaved species as renew themselves in this way. They should be cut while dormant. This is about the only way employed in the reproduction of coppice woods. (See Copse.) As a rule the conifers do not sprout from their stumps. Pruning and thinning must be given some attention. Natural pruning is most satisfactory, and will be done by the trees themselves if they are planted close enough. In natural pruning the lower twigs and branches die because close planting prevents their obtaining sufficient light. In time these dead parts are broken off and their stubs are buried by the trunk as it increases in girth. Thinning, on the other hand, must be done from time to time so as to prevent overcrowding. When branches are cut off, the cut should be close to the main trunk, and where the wound is too large to heal over in a single year or possibly two, the cut surface should be protected against the entrance of fungi by painting it.

Economic Returns. The financial returns from forests depend upon a number of factors, but in any case they are tardy. In copses the whole area may be cut over every twenty or thirty years, while forests grown for timber must of necessity be of greater age. By conservative management, where the land is not too valuable at the beginning and markets are convenient, it is believed that four per cent. can be realized in European forests, and there are records of even greater returns in the United States. A ten-year-old plantation of hardy catalpa in Kansas is said to have yielded a net gain of $197.55 per acre, which sum could have been increased by continuing the marketing over a longer period.

Since it has been shown that private holdings of forest areas can be so managed as to be a source of continual revenue without impairing the original capital, many large owners are availing themselves of the opportunity offered by the Government to secure the aid of expert foresters in planning their management. To provide experts schools of forestry have been established at Cornell and Yale universities, and forestry instruction is given in the agricultural colleges of a number of States.

Climatic Influence. The climatic influences of forests are very great. Whether forests are actually instrumental in securing greater rainfall is somewhat problematical. Observations covering a long period of years and a large extent of forest are not sufficiently abundant to determine this point. That they do aid very materially in conserving moisture is not to be denied, and as a factor in the distribution of water they are equally important. In tempering hot and cold winds and as wind-breaks, they are of great importance. The temperature in a forest is lower in summer and warmer in winter than in an adjacent open tract, and this influence may be exerted to a considerable distance. The use of forests as a means for reclaiming tracts of almost barren sand and for protecting regions against wind-shifted sand are well shown by some of the forests of France.

Forest Enemies. The worst enemies of forests are man, through the agency of destructive lumbering, forest fires, grazing of animals, especially sheep; insect attacks, and fungous diseases. Mixed forests are not so subject to great loss from the last two causes as pure woods, since the same fungus or insect seldom attacks any great number of species of trees. Public sentiment, knowledge of how to prevent the other losses, and how to make forestry profitable, must protect against the other enemies. See Arboriculture; Forest.


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COPYRIGHT, 1902, BY DODD, MEAD & COMPANY.