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Forest Ecosystems: Their Maintenance, Amelioration, and Deterioration

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Complex ecosystems tend toward a condition of dynamic equilibrium in which violent fluctuations in the physical environment and in the plant and animal components are less likely than in simple ecosystems. Actually, in nature, equilibrium is never completely attained because the environment is never entirely stable nor are the living components of the system ever static. The possibility of amelioration of ecosystems so they may better serve the objectives of man is generally recognized. However, when drastic changes are introduced, either in the abiotic or biotic components, the ecosystems should remain under continuing surveillance by the forester, at least until the outcome is established. Even before the appearance of man ecosystems were being upset by changes in the organisms and the environments. Disturbances resulting from the activities of the human animal are unique only in their extent and severity. It seems that the disturbances of forest ecosystems that involve the greatest potential dangers are those that are extreme and outside the evolutionary experience of the organisms involved. Examples are given of ecosystem deterioration resulting from drastic changes in the physical environment or in the population of organisms. The writer does not concur in the view that to disturb or alter in any way natural forest conditions is to court disaster. Neither does he find acceptable the view that man can alter ecosystems in any way he chooses, that he can safely ignore natural tendencies. Between these two extremes is wide opportunity for applying the basic philosophy of working in harmony with nature.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Professor of Silviculture, School of Forestry, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

Publication date: August 1, 1963

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.476
    Ranking: 22 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Forest Science
    Other SAF Publications
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