|Economics of forestry; a reference book for students of political economy and professional and lay students of forestry, by Bernhard E. Fernow|
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Economics of forestry; a reference book for students of political economy and professional and lay students of forestry, by Bernhard E. Fernow
CHAPTER IV FOREST AND FORESTRY DEFINED
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From age to age the relations of man to man, and of man to nature, change according to the development of science and art and the progress of civilization in general. What was important once has lost its significance to-day, and what appears to us highly significant at the present time had no existence in the minds of our ancestors. With these changes in our conditions and conceptions the language used in expressing them also changes; not only does our vocabulary increase, but words long used change their meaning, sometimes so radically, that little is left of the first meaning.
The conception and the word "forest" has in this way through historical development experienced a change to such an extent, that the original conception and meaning are almost, if not entirely, obliterated. In this change, both of conception and meaning, Teutonic development has made its impress. The word of Old High German origin, "voorst," used to designate the segregated property of the king, or leader of the tribe. Toward
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the end of the eighth century, latinized into "foresta," or "forestis," it assumed a more restricted meaning, namely, as referring to all the royal woods, in which the right to hunt was reserved by the king, either for himself or for those of his vassals to whom he ceded the right to the chase. (See Appendix.) Gradually, however, the kings employed their royal prerogative of forbidding any kind of action, under threat of the "ban," in extending their exclusive right to the chase, not only to neighboring woods, but to fields as well.
By and by the temporal and spiritual princes and feudal lords succeeded in having their own holdings protected in the same manner, and declared as "ban forests," as far as the hunting was concerned, and by the thirteenth century this prerogative was freely exercised by noble landholders. Under the plea of protecting the chase, the rights to cut wood (which had been free to all), to clear for agricultural use, and to pasture, were gradually restricted, and these restrictions, which had referred at first only to the property of the lords, were soon extended to apply also to the property of others which lay within the "ban," so that at the end of the ninth century a "forest" meant a large tract of land, including woods as well as pastures, fields, and whole villages, on which not only the rights to the chase were reserved to the king or his vassals, but the persons living on it in all their relations fell under the special jurisdiction of the "forest
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laws." It was then a legal term, and had no reference to natural but only to legal conditions, with the royal prerogative, the right to hunt, as a basis. Afforesting and disafforesting were correspondingly the legal terms which denoted the placing of districts under the forest ban and forest laws, or their release from these restrictions.
The forests of Dean, of Windsor, of Epping, of Sherwood, and the New Forest, in England, made famous by legend and history, were such districts, set aside by the Norman kings for their pastime.1
[Note 1: 1 It is interesting to note that this mediæval conception and use of the terms lingered until nearly the present day, as evidenced by a suit at court, decided in 1862, instituted by one of the dukes of Athole in Scotland, who hold extensive mountain districts either in their own right or as "foresters" for the crown, in virtue of which one of them claimed the power of preventing his neighbor, the Laird of Lude, from killing deer on his own lands, and the right to enter the Laird's lands himself for the purpose. The courts decided adversely.]
The care which, under the forest laws, was bestowed upon the woodlands by special officers called foresters, first for the sake of preserving the game, then for the sake of continuity of wood supplies, and the later release of the fields from the application of these laws, no doubt had a tendency to restrict the term forest again to the woodlands alone, until finally, with the decadence of the regal prerogative, the old meaning wore away entirely, and it referred no longer to a legal but to a natural condition, land covered with wood growth
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in contradistinction to prairies and plains, meadow and field.
In the German language, with the more intensive development in the rational treatment of the woodlands, the limitation is carried farther, the word Forst being specific, and meaning the woods which are placed under management, the woods as an object of man's cultivatory activity, while the term Wald is generic, and refers to the natural condition of the soil cover. In the English language this distinction has not yet become settled; especially in the United States the lexicographers seem to consider large extent and virgin or natural growth, an absence of cultivation, as distinctive attributes to the word forest, while the word woodlands is vaguely and inconsistently defined as the generic term for land covered or interspersed with trees and of less extent than forest, or else land on which "trees are suffered to grow either for fuel or timber" (Webster), accentuating thereby relation to the uses of man. (See Appendix.)
Etymology, linguistic sense, and as we believe actual usage, especially in the literature of later times, since the subject of forests and forestry has become prominent, would warrant us to define, more precisely, woodland as the general or generic term for land naturally covered with woody growth in contradistinction to land not so covered; forest as the restricted or specific term, namely, woodland whether of natural growth or planted by man, considered
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in relation to the economic interests of man and from the standpoint of national economy, as an object of man's care, a woodland placed under management for "forest purposes," and, we may also add, exhibiting "forest conditions." These last limitations are important ones and lead to the necessity of further definition.
By the first restriction we exclude at once those lands covered with trees or woody growth, which serve other than forest purposes, such as coffee plantations, orchards, which are grown for fruit, roadside plantings and parks, which are planted or kept for shade and ornament, wind-breaks consisting of single rows of trees, which, although like the other conditions of tree growth mentioned may answer some functions of a forest growth, are not primarily intended to fulfil forest purposes and lack what we have called "forest conditions."
The first and foremost purpose of a forest growth is to supply us with wood material; it is the substance of the trees itself, not their fruit, their beauty, their shade, their shelter, that constitute the primary object of this class of woodland.
With the settlement of the country and the growing needs of civilization this use must and will attach as an essential predicate, a fundamental requisite, to any woodland left as such, whatever other purposes it may or may not be designed to subserve, temporarily or continuously.
Thus if the state of New York withdraws from
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such use a large woodland area in the Adirondacks to subserve solely other purposes, this can be only a temporary withdrawal from its main purpose which time and intelligent conception of rational economy will reverse.
Just so, if a private individual sets apart for the purpose of a game preserve a piece of woodland, and keeps out the axe which would utilize in part the useful timber, he frustrates the primary object of the forest growth temporarily and commits an economic mistake.
Occasionally it is not the wood but some other part of the tree itself that is the main object of the harvest, as for instance the bark for tanning purposes or the resinous contents which are transformed into naval stores. Yet, as a rule, the wood too is utilized and at least forest conditions are maintained in the production of the crop. But when it comes to a maple sugar orchard, expressly grown for the purpose, or the cork oak plantation, managed for the cork, the primary object not only begins to vanish, but also the second criterion of a forest, namely, forest conditions, is absent, and this kind of woodland ceases to fall properly under the term "forest," the designation of orchard or plantation being more appropriate.
Besides the great primary object of forest growth, that of furnishing useful materials either of wood or parts of the wood substance, there has been recognized indistinctly through all ages, more clearly
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during the last century and with greater precision during the last thirty to forty years, that forest growth serves an object in the economy of nature and of man which under certain conditions may become equally if not more important than this direct primary one.
We have learned that in general all conditions in nature are interrelated, and in particular that the condition of the surface cover of the ground not only influences more or less potently the condition of the soil and meteorological factors under the cover, but that this influence reaches even beyond the limits of the cover to its neighborhood; and, with the recognition of this influence upon soil, temperature, and water conditions a new important forest use, namely, as a protective cover and climatic factor, has become established, so that we may distinguish, according to whether the one or the other purpose becomes more prominent, supply forests and protection forests, although the latter invariably also furnish supplies, and finally, when pleasure and game cover are the main objects, we may speak of luxury forests.
To fulfil either or both of the first two, more important functions satisfactorily or continuously, to furnish most useful material and to act as a protective cover, it is needful that the woodland designated as forest exhibit what we have called "forest conditions."
A forest in the sense in which we use the term,
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as an economic factor, is by no means a mere collection of trees, but an organic whole in which all parts, although apparently heterogeneous, jumbled together by accident as it were and apparently unrelated, bear a close relation to each other and are as interdependent as any other beings and conditions in nature.
Not only is there interrelation between plant and climate and between plant and soil conditions, but also an interrelation between the individuals composing the forest growth based on definable laws, and finally an interrelation between the arborescent growth and the lower vegetation; the whole being a result of reactions of plant life to all surrounding influences and reciprocally of influences on all elements of its environment. Even the seemingly lawless mixture of species which we find in the virgin forest is not altogether fortuitous, but a result of such reactions.
Out of these reactions and interrelations result conditions which we call forest conditions, and which not only distinguish the forest from other collections of trees or woodlands, but also impart a particular individuality and character to the forest growth of each locality. Even the virgin woodlands may lack what we conceive as ideal forest conditions, when in the struggle for existence other forms of vegetation have still the advantage over the arborescent growth and hence forest purposes are imperfectly performed, or when
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the latter has not yet been able to fully establish itself under unfavorable soil and climatic conditions. In such cases, which are frequent in the arid and sub-arid and the arctic regions, the single stragglers of trees, the park-like open stand, their stunted and scrubby appearance may leave it doubtful whether the term "forest," with its economic significance, is applicable to these woodlands, or may exempt them from consideration under the term.
Forest conditions, then, imply a more or less exclusive occupancy of the soil by arborescent growth, a close stand of trees, as a consequence of which a form of individual tree development results unlike that produced in the open stand, and a more or less dense shading of the ground which excludes largely the lower vegetation.
By so much as these conditions are deficient, by so much does the forest fail to fulfil its economic functions, as a source of useful material and as a factor in influencing climatic and soil conditions.
With regard to the first function, it must be understood that it is not wood simply that is required for the industries of man, but wood of certain qualities and sizes, such as are fit to be cut into lumber, as boards, planks, joists, scantlings, or into timber as beams, sills, and posts, into bolts free from blemish, which can be advantageously manufactured into the thousands of articles that are indispensable to human civilization. Such
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sizes and qualities combined are not as a rule produced by trees in open stand. Their production requires the close stand, by which the trees are forced to reach up for light in order to escape the shade of their neighbors and all growth energy is utilized in the bole or trunk, the most useful part to man, instead of being dissipated in the growth of branches. The useful forest tree is the one that has grown up with close neighbors, which have deprived it of side light and thereby forced it to form a long cylindrical shaft, to shed its side branches early, which if persisting would have produced knotty lumber, to confine its branch growth to the crown alone.
Such conditions are also the most favorable in fulfilling the second function of the forest as regulator of waterflow and climate, for it is the shaded condition of the soil and the effective barrier to sun and winds, results of a dense stand, by which the forest exercises these regulatory functions.
The history of the woodlands has been the same in all parts of the world, progressing according to the cultural development of the people. First the forest was valued as a harbor of game; then it appeared as an impediment to agricultural development, and relentless war was waged against it, while at the same time the value of its material stores made it an object of greedy exploitation, and only in a highly civilized nation and in a well-settled country does the conception of the relation of forests
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to the future welfare of the community lead to a rational treatment of forests as such for continuity and to the application of the principles embodied in the science of forestry.
There existed some knowledge as to the nature of forest growth and the advantages of its systematic use among the Romans and Greeks. Ancus Marcius, the fourth king of Rome (about 640 B.C.), claimed the forests as a public domain and placed them under special officers. Later, under the republic, they were in special charge of the consuls. Subsequently the continuous wars seem to have wiped out not only the administrative features but the forests themselves, and the Italians of modern times until lately had no more conception of the importance of the forest cover than the people of the United States, so that Italy to-day furnishes about as good an object lesson as any country of the evil effects of forest devastation.
The real art of forestry is unquestionably of Teutonic origin, or was at least conceived rather early among the Germanic tribes; the first attempts at it seem to antedate even Charlemagne's time.
Long before the royal prerogative of the chase lent an incentive to conservative treatment, there existed among the communistic villagers, who were aggregated in the so-called "Mark," owning all their land in common, crude but systematic attempts at rational utilization and even reproduction. The amount of wood that might be harvested without
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detriment to future crops was determined, the better kind of timber being more economically cut, and the timber to be cut was designated by officials, whose duty it was to superintend the felling, the removal, and even the use of the same. By and by even the firewood was designated, the dead and inferior material being assigned for it. Charring and boxing for resin were carried on under precautions. The number of swine to be allowed in the oak and beech forests was determined according to the quantity of seed mast. Grazing in the woods was allowed only under certain regulations as to districts and number of cattle for every "Marker." The great damage by sheep and goats was recognized and their pasturing in the woods prohibited as early as 1158. Even an Arbor-day was anticipated in some parts, each man having to plant, under the supervision of the forester, a number of trees proportionate to his consumption.
In 1368, the city of Nuremberg began on a larger scale systematic reforestation of waste lands with pines, which was imitated by other communities, and we have documentary evidence that in 1491 a regular system of annual sowings of oak was in existence in the communal forests of Seligenstadt. By the end of the fifteenth century, indeed, fully organized forest administrations existed, and various "Forstordnungen" (forest ordinances) prescribed in detail the manner of exploiting and reëstablishing
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of wood crops, and trespasses of all kinds were punished with heavy penalties.
The first beginnings, then, of a rational forest management were of democratic origin,--a management by the people for the people, who held the welfare of the community higher than the satisfaction of the greed of the few. To be sure, this state of things did not last. The Thirty-years War, which extirpated many of the cities and villages, and brought other economic changes, reduced their holdings of forest property, which fell into the hands of princes and the nobility, and gradually the communal forest was supplanted by the royal or lordly forest, or through partition by the private forest of the single farmer. Then came a period of decline in forest management. Private greed disregarded the many regulations and ordinances against devastation. Fires ruined large areas in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and in addition excessive exploitation reduced the forest area in extent and brought it into poor condition. That era, reaching partly into the beginning of the nineteenth century, presents conditions somewhat similar to those with which we are now confronted in this country. The Revolution of 1792 opened wide the doors to the destructive element, and the teachings of Adam Smith still further reduced the wholesome restrictive functions of governments, and induced a movement to sell all government property. The damage which France
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--up to that time living under a tolerably well developed forest policy--is now working to repair resulted from these times of forest dismemberment and forest destruction. Naturally voices against this reckless procedure became louder and louder, as the effects of continued forest devastation and improper clearing became more and more visible, and, as the governments became stronger after the Napoleonic wars, reconstruction and return to conservative policies were bound to follow. At the same time the technical part of forestry, the methods of forestry practice, had been gradually developed in an empiric way, and with the development of natural sciences were placed on a more stable basis and taught in special forestry schools and at universities by the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century. We can fairly well compare our present movement in the United States on behalf of rational forest management with what was going on in Germany a hundred years ago. A fuller study into the history of this movement in the old countries, at which we have here glanced only briefly, would aid better than any academic discussions and arguments to a full understanding of both the economic and technical problems involved.
In the pioneer days of a newly settled country, which is forest-covered like the eastern United States, man by necessity must remove a part of the forest growth for the purpose of gaining ground for
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food production. That part which is not cleared for such purpose he exploits, usually regardless of the conditions in which he leaves it, cutting out the best trees of the most useful species or else cutting off the entire growth and leaving nature to take care of the future.
When this crude forest exploitation and destructive process has gone on so long that virgin supplies are nearly exhausted, that the effects of inconsiderate clearing or forest devastation becomes visible in soil washes, in high and low water stages of rivers, more frequent and more destructive floods, etc., then he begins to consider more carefully the relation which the forest and its continuance bears toward the further development of society, toward the conditions of his surroundings; he realizes that he may not continue to disturb the balance of nature unpunished, nay, that he must be active in improving the methods of nature, and weight that side of the balance which is favorable to him and his pursuits; he begins to bring more rational method into his use of the forest, he attempts to apply knowledge and care in its treatment, he makes it an object of economic thought, in other words he arrives at a first conception of and applies forestry, which may be most comprehensively defined as the rational treatment of forests for forest purposes. First he determines upon a rational policy for his further conduct toward the forest, and then, having studied the
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manner in which forests grow, having become familiar with the science of forestry, he develops superior positive methods in treatment and perpetuation of the forest and applies the art of forestry; and, adding the financial aspect in the application of the art, he practises the business of forestry.
In its broadest sense thus the term "forestry", according to the point of view, represents a policy, a science, an art, a business. A policy is a general plan of behavior, a general line of conduct with reference to our affairs, embodying the philosophy, the motives and object of our programme. By determining upon a policy with reference to a resource like the forest, we assign it a place in our political or domestic economy, we make up our mind as to what to do with it. It is from this point of view that this volume proposes to discuss the subject.
Such a policy we naturally base on knowledge or science which furnishes us the reason for our policy, the why to do. This science of forestry comprises all the knowledge regarding forest growth,--its component parts, the life history of the species, and their behavior under varying conditions, its development and dependence upon natural conditions, its retroactive influence upon those natural conditions, in short its place in the economy of the nature and of man.
When we come to formulate our knowledge into rules of procedure and apply the same to the
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treatment of forest areas specifically, we begin to practise the art of forestry--we learn how to do; and finally, applying this art systematically for the purpose for which all technical arts are carried on, namely, for money results, we come to practise the business of forestry.
Like agriculture, forestry is concerned in the use of the soil for crop production; as the agriculturist is engaged in the production of food-crops, so the forester is engaged in the production of wood-crops, and finally both are carrying on their art for the practical purpose of a revenue.
Forest crop production is the business of the professional forester.
A forester then is not, as the American public has been prone to apply the word, one who knows the names of trees and flowers, a botanist; nor even one who knows their life history, a dendrologist; nor one who, for the love of trees, proclaims the need of preserving them, a propagandist; nor one who makes a business of planting parks or orchards, an arboriculturist, fruit grower, landscape gardener, or nurseryman; nor one who cuts down trees and converts them into lumber, a wood-chopper or a lumberman; nor one set to prevent forest fires or depredations in woodlands, a forest guard; nor even one who knows how to produce and reproduce wood-crops, a silviculturist; but in the fullest sense of the term, a forester is a technically educated man who, with the knowledge
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of the forest trees and their life history and of all that pertains to their growth and production, combines further knowledge which enables him to manage a forest property so as to produce certain conditions resulting in the highest attainable revenue from the soil by wood-crops.
The virgin forest grows where it pleases, and as it pleases, without reference to the needs of man. It covers the rich agricultural soils as well as the dry and thin soils of the mountain slope and top; it may encumber the ground which can more profitably be employed in the production of food-materials, and it may be absent where its protection is needed for human comfort or for successful agriculture.
Nature produces weeds--tree weeds--and useful species side by side; she does not care for the composition of the crop; tree growth, whatever the kind, satisfies her laws of development; nor has she concern with the form of the component trees,--they may be branched and crooked, short and tapering. In time, in a long time, she too may produce long clear shafts, but by her methods such results will only be accomplished in centuries; nature takes no account of time or space, both of which are lavishly at her command. The area of virgin forest which we harvest to-day has produced a tithe of the useful material which it is capable of producing, and has taken two to three-fold the time which it would take under skilful
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direction to secure better results, quantitatively and qualitatively.
It is in the application of the economic point of view, in relegating forest growth to non-agricultural soils, in influencing its composition and its development toward usefulness, in securing its reproduction in a manner more satisfactory to human wants and human calculations, than nature's fitful performances promise, that the forester's forest differs.
Forestry in more or less developed form is begun when this economic point of view is applied, when care, however slight, is bestowed upon the virgin wood to secure its improvement and continuance.
Before the finer methods of forest management become practicable under such economic conditions as surround us, a common-sense management may be possible, which consists in more careful utilization of the natural forest, protecting it against fire, fostering young volunteer growth of the better kinds, by keeping out cattle, and in general avoiding whatever prevents a satisfactory reproduction of the natural woods. For large sections of this country, this will for some time to come be the only forestry that is practicable, namely, wherever distance from market for inferior material makes finer methods unprofitable or impracticable.
L. of C.Finally, however, the art in its fullest and finest
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development will become applicable through the length and breadth of our country, just as in the old countries.
As in every productive industry, so in the forestry industry we can distinguish two separate yet necessarily always closely interdependent branches, namely, the technical art which concerns itself with the production of the material, and the business art which concerns itself with the orderly, organized conduct of the industry of production.
Since the materials and forces of nature are the source of the mighty processes of organic life which find expression in forest growth, the art of forest crop production naturally relies mainly upon a knowledge of natural sciences, by which the forester may be enabled to direct and influence nature's forces into more useful production, than its unguided activity would secure.
The nature of the plant material, its biology, its relation to climate and soil, must be known to secure the largest, most useful, and most valuable crop; that portion of botany which may be segregated as dendrology--the botany of trees in all its ramifications--must form the main basis of the forester's art. To study such a segregated portion of the large field of botanical science presupposes, to be sure, a sufficient amount of general botanical knowledge. In order to know, recognize, and classify his materials the methods of classification, the general anatomy and histology, must be familiar to him,
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as well as general physiology and biology; finally, he must specialize and become an expert on biological dendrology, i.e. a knowledge of the life history, the development, and dependence upon surroundings, the ecology, of trees, in individuals as well as in communities,--a very special study, to which few botanists have as yet given much attention. Forest crop production, or silviculture, in its widest sense, may be called applied dendrology. And the forester is not satisfied only to know the general features of the biology of the species, their development from seed to maturity, their requirements regarding soil and light conditions, but as he is a producer of material for revenue, he is most emphatically interested in the amount of production and the rate at which this production takes place. Far different from the agriculturist's crop, his is not an annual one, but requires many years of accumulations, and as each year's waiting increases the cost of production by tying up the capital invested, it is of importance not only to know the likely progress of the crop, the mathematics of accretion, but also how its progress may be influenced.
In this connection the study of geology and meteorology, of soil and climate, the factors of site, is required, as far as necessary to understand the relationship of plant life to surroundings, and teach the chemico-physical basis for wood production. The protection of his crop not only against
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climatic ills, but against enemies of the animal and plant world, requires studies in that direction, and finally to harvest his crop and bring it to market and dispose of it to best advantage calls for engineering knowledge and acquaintance with wood technology.
The business side of the forestry industry, which we call forest economy, relies mainly upon mathematical calculations and the application of principles of political economy. The fact that the time from the start of the crop to the harvest may be fifty, one hundred, or more years--the time it takes to grow a useful size of timber--necessitates a more thoroughly premeditated and organized conduct, more complicated profit calculations, more careful plans, than in any other business which deals with shorter time periods.
In this connection one of the first and most important mathematical problems for the forester to settle, is when his crop is ripe. This is not as with agricultural crops and fruits determined by a natural period, but by the judgment of the harvester, based upon mathematical and financial calculations.
There are various principles which may be followed in determining the maturity of a stand, or what is technically called the rotation, i.e. the time within which a forest, managed as a unit, shall be cut over and reproduced; but all rely finally upon measurements of the quantity of production as basis of the business calculation, and hence forest
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mensuration has been developed into a special branch of mathematics and many methods have been developed, by which not only the volume and rate of growth of single trees, but of whole stands, can be more or less accurately determined. Similarly, finance calculations have been more fully developed in the forestry business than are usually practised in any other business excepting perhaps Life Insurance.
Without going into further details of the contents of the science of forestry, reserving for two chapters a fuller discussion of the two main branches, a comprehensive view may be gained by the following systematic statement of the various branches into which forestry may be divided.
SYSTEM OF FORESTRY KNOWLEDGE.
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Besides these essential and directly applicable branches of knowledge, it is desirable that the manager of a large forest property have also some knowledge of fish and game preservation, and of agriculture, if game, fish, meadows, agricultural lands, form integral parts of the property.