Competitive Exams: Forest Management

Forest Management is the branch of forestry concerned with the overall administrative, economic, legal, and social aspects and with the essentially scientific and technical aspects, especially silviculture, protection, and forest regulation. This includes management for aesthetics, fish, recreation, urban values, water, wilderness, wildlife, wood products, and other forest resource values. Management can be based on conservation, economics, or a mixture of the two. Techniques include the extraction timber, planting and replanting of various species, cutting roads and pathways through forests, and preventing of fire.

In developed countries, the environment has increased public awareness of natural resource policy, including forest management. As a direct result, primary concerns regarding forest management have shifted from the extraction of timber to other forest resources including wildlife, watershed management, and recreation. This shift in public values has also caused many in the public to mistrust resource management professionals.

Community Forestry

Community Forestry has been considered one of the most promising options of combining forest conservation with rural development and poverty reduction objectives. Community Forestry is implemented firstly through the establishment of a legal and institutional framework including the revision of legal norms and regulations for forest management, the development of National Forest Plans and the strengthening of decentralization processes to sub-national levels of government. The second principle line of action is the implementation of pilot projects to demonstrate the feasibility of the Community Forestry Framework.

However, a study by the Overseas Development Institute shows that the technical, managerial and financial requirements stipulated by the framework are often incompatible with local realities and interests. A successful legal and institutional framework will incorporate the strengthening of existing institutions and enable the dissemination of locally appropriate practices as well as the local capacity for regulation and control

Forest Farming

Forest farming is an agroforestry practice characterized by the four “I's” -Intentional, Integrated, Intensive and Interactive management of an existing forested ecosystem wherein forest health is of paramount concern. It is neither forestry nor farming in the traditional sense.

Forest farm management principles constitute an ecological approach to forest management through efforts to find a balance between conservation of native biodiversity and wildlife habitat within the forest and limited, judicious utilization of the forest's varied resources. It attempts to bring secondary growth forests that have been overused and whose ecosystems have become so fragmented that their natural processes are out of equilibrium, back into ecological balance through careful, intentional manipulation over time, emulating natural processes to restore original, natural diversity of species and ecosystem stability.

In some instances, the intentional introduction of native or native-related species for use as botanicals, medicinals or food products is accomplished, utilizing the existing forest ecosystem to aid in support of their growth. The tree cover, soil type, water supply, landform and other site characteristics determine what species will thrive, as opposed to field-grown crop plantings. Developing an understanding of species/site relationships as well as understanding the site limitations is necessary in order to utilize these resources for current needs, while conserving adequate resources for the health of the forest today and for the future.

Forest farm management methods may include: Intensive, yet cautious thinning of overstocked, suppressed tree stands such that no individual species is decimated and such that the crown cover is never depleted leaving the forest floor exposed to excessive sun, rain and erosion; multiple Integrated entries to accomplish thinnings so that the systemic shock is not so great; and Interactive management to maintain a cross-section of healthy trees and shrubs of all ages and species, rather than a monoculture of timber species. Caution is used to ensure that physical disturbance to the surrounding area is minimized in order for the forest ecosystem to recover more quickly.

Forest farm management is a type of forest stewardship ethic whose philosophy is that the term “sustainable” means what is sustainable for the earth, not what is sustainable for man's demand, and its objective is to restore and maintain the health of the forest land's many and varied ecosystems.

In recent years, the concept of ecosystem serviceshas been developed to satisfy the human demand for a means of participating actively in support of ecosystem health and appreciation of the earth's natural assets. This movement is taking many physical forms-the planting of trees; the leaving of timber to grow older; the protection of forest habitat for animal species; creek riparian enhancement. Forest health is already a priority and is currently undertaken on forest farms as part of the management program. This positions them well to respond to this societal need, of conservation-minded individuals who are willing to provide monetary support for the program.