Chapter 10: Forests and Forest Management

The Forest and the Trees

  • Forests cover 31% of Earth’s surface

Basic Requirements of Trees

Autotrophs – Create food using photosynthesis

  • Air, light, soil and water are needed

Macronutrients - Nutrients required in large amounts: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sulphur, carbon

Micronutrients - Required in small amounts: iron, zinc, manganese

Major Groups of Forest Biomes

Forest - Land area with significant tree cover, covering is really think so light doesn’t usually reach the ground floor

Woodland - A wooded treed area where the canopy is more open, easier for light to pass through

  1. Boreal Forests
  2. High latitude (mainly in northern hemisphere), cold, relatively dry climate, short growing season
  3. Contain evergreen/coniferous trees \rightarrow Contain pine needles instead of traditional leaves
  4. Temperate Forests
  5. Areas with seasonal climates, distinct winter and summer seasons
  6. Found in Eastern North America, northeastern Asia, and western and central Europe
  7. Contain deciduous trees \rightarrow Lose their leafs between seasons
  8. Tropical Forests
  9. Found in south and central America, mainly tropical climates
  10. Mangroves \rightarrow Coastal forests
  11. Rainforests are characterized by heavy rainfall periods

Forests Grade into Open Wooded Land

Shrub-Lands - Wooded areas covered by shrubs

  • Tundra is a high latitude colder shrub-land

Savannah - An open area dominated by grasses and widely scattered trees

Grasslands - Land dominated by grasses and other woody vegetation

Drylands - Areas with low precipitation

  • Extremely sensitive to environmental change
  • Easily damaged if land use is abused

Canadian Forests

  • Canadians forests represent 10% of the world’s forest cover

Forests of the North

  • Boreal forests make up most forested areas in Canada
  • Everywhere except Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

Coniferous – White spruce, tamarack, pine

Deciduous – White birch, aspen

Taiga - transitional land between boreal forest and northern tundra

Forests of the West

  • Subalpine forest region and montane forest region in BC and Alberta
  • Coast forest region and Columbia forest region

Forests of the East

  • Smallest forest region in Canada – Deciduous forest region
  • Located north of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario
  • Contain sugar maple, beech, elm, oak
  • Great lakes \rightarrow St. Lawrence forest region

Ecological Value of Forests

  • Forests are rich in biodiversity
  • Trees create food and shelter
  • Some animals adapt to live under the dense canopy of trees
  • Food for birds
  • Dead decaying trees are food for some animals/insects
  • Core and edge of forests can have different habitat characteristics
  • CORE \rightarrow dense vegetation and moisture

Value of Ecosystem Services to People

  • Forest vegetation stabilizes and prevents erosion
  • Removing them causes erosion
  • Soil exposed to more wind and water, easier to erode
  • Regulate hydro-logic cycle, slow runoff, purify water, lessen floods
  • Store carbon and release oxygen

Forest Products Economically Value

  • Provided shelter, warmth, helped create modes of transportation

Recent decades

  • Growth of industrial timber harvesting
  • Commercial logging – Canada and Russia bc of Boreal forests, Brazil and Indonesia bc of rainforests

Softwood – Coniferous, extremely important to Canadian economy

Hardwood – Deciduous

  • Non-wood products (NTFP – non-timber forest products)
  • Medicinal and herbal products, decorative products (Christmas trees/wreaths), fruits, honey
  • 30% of forests are designed for harvesting purposes

Timber Harvesting Methods


  • Cutting down all trees in an leaving the stump
  • Most efficient and most damaging
  • May mimic natural disturbance (forest fire) where the forest can regrow natural
  • Sometimes entire organism communities are destroyed, soil erodes, more sun exposure to the soil altering its temperature
  • New growth of forest will be very different from what it originally was, some organisms won’t be able to adapt

New forestry

  • Cutting down trees in a way that mimic a natural disturbance so the land can rebuild naturally
  • “sloppy clear-cut” only cutting part of the forest, leaves few trees
  • “seed-tree” approach is where small amounts of mature seed-producing trees are left so they can reseed the logged area
  • Shelterwood approach is where small amounts of trees are left to provide shelter to the organisms that live there

Selection system

  • Only some sections of trees are cut at a time

Plantation Forestry in North America

  • Growth of monocultures
  • Single-species forests

Reforestation - Planting trees after an area has been logged

Afforestation - Planting trees where forested areas haven’t had trees for a long time (over 50 years)

Even-Aged - When all the trees in an area are planted at the same time

Maximum Sustainable Yield - A principle that states that it’s better to cut after they’ve gone through their growth stages, cut them before they’re fully grown

Uneven-Aged - Planting groups of trees at different times, creates a more natural forest

Land Conservation and Deforestation

Deforestation - the loss of forested area worldwide

Canada & US

  • Canada and the US were fuelled by land clearing and logging
  • Clearing land for settlement and farming started growth in Canada and the US
  • Farming economy shifted to industrial
  • Provided material for the furnace industry

Primary Forest - Long standing natural forest, uncut, unharmed – very little remained by the 20th century

Second Growth - Trees that have grown to partial maturity after old growth timber has been cut


  • The major cause of conservation of forests and grasslands
  • Agriculture covers more land on Earth than forests
  • 26% of agriculture land is used for animal farming, 12% is used for crops
  • Agricultural farming isn’t always harmful – but increased use of pesticides, fertilizer and irrigation
  • Small parts of forests are cleared and crops are planted, then after 1-2 years when all the soil nutrients are used up more forested area is cleared
  • Give the previous cleared area time to replenish – due to social and economic pressures cleared land isn’t given much time to replenish
  • Agriculture is supported by government subsidies, making billions of dollars
  • Provided incentives to farmers to clear land
  • Not sustainable


  • Livestock graze one-fourth of Earth’s land surface
  • Most cattle in North America are raised in feedlots
  • Some raised in rangelands
  • Grasslands or wooded areas converted to support livestock
  • Overgrazing damages soil, waterways, and vegetation
  • Livestock land uses twice as much land as crop lands

Bad Practices & Deforestation

  • Forest resources can be harvested sustainably but we don’t do that because of societal and economic demands
  • Deforestation in tropical area
  • Massive biodiversity loss
  • Can lead to desertification in drylands
  • Add CO2 into the atmosphere contributing to climate change
  • Many developing countries have areas of uncut land that they could use for human use
  • Advances in technology allow resources to be exploited
  • Rapid deforestation in developing countries
  • Foreign corporations responsible for most extraction of resources
  • They usually benefit from whatever economic growth the country faces
  • Pay fees for the right to extract the resource
  • No incentive for resource management

Forest Management Principles

  • Forestry - people who manage forests must find a way to balance the need/importance of its ecosystems with the economic need for wood products
  • Maintain equilibrium between stocks and flows
  • The rate of harvesting forest material should not exceed the replenishment rate

Public Forests

  • In Canada are managed for many purposes
  • 94% of Canada’s forests are publicly owned – most is provincial jurisdiction
  • Timber is taken from both private and publicly owned forests by private timber companies
  • Most taken from provincial land
  • Provinces and territories own and regulate the natural resources within their boundaries – under the constitution, basically they can do whatever they want
  • Federal governments responsibilities are outlined through trade, national economy, technology, aboriginal treat rights, etc
  • Forest management guided by policy of multiple use managed for recreation, wildlife habitat, mineral extraction, etc
  • Timber production is primary

Ecosystem Based Management - Attempts to manage the harvesting of resources in ways that minimize the impact on ecosystems

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