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When Is a Forest Not a Forest?

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Numerous published and legitimate definitions of forest exist. Most can be grouped into three categories–those that describe administrative units, those that describe land cover, and those that mean a type of land use–and then there are some miscellaneous types. Definitions vary widely from country to country and even among US federal agencies, sometimes with legal and policy ramifications. Agreement on the meaning of such terms as forest and forestland is a logical first step in reaching agreement on natural resource problems. Threshold values–minimum area, strip width, canopy cover, and tree height–are especially important for identifying classes of land.

Keywords: communication; education; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; international forestry; natural resource management; natural resources; policy

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: Forestry Consultant Forest Information Services, 6238 Settlers Trail Place, Gainesville, VA, 20155-1374,

Publication date: December 1, 2002

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.
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