forest? what is a

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what is
a
What is a forest?
There is no simple
answer to this
question but
a whole range
of points of view.
forest?
According to the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations
(FAO), a forest is an expanse of at least half
a hectare (a little less than a football pitch),
where the trees, rising taller than 5 metres, cover more
than 10% of its surface area.
Humans are absent from this definition. It does
not convey the diversity of activities and the social,
economic or environmental issues that our planet’s
forest ecosystems support. Each community -huntergatherers, loggers, farmers, scientists, NGOs or Stateshas its own vision of the forest according to the goods
and services it provides!
What is man’s place in forests?
Biologists regard the forest as a set of plant and animal
populations dominated by trees. Often humans
are considered as simply one disturbing agent among
others. Conversely, for social sciences researchers,
the forest is the result of relationships and interactions
between human societies and nature.
Finding a consensus is therefore a difficult challenge.
Yet it is fundamental, at a time when forests are of
key importance in international negotiations on the
environment.
Can the Hevea (rubber tree) plantations, nibbling away
more and more of the tropical forests, be considered
as forests? There is sharp debate about this question.
Is this
Indonesian
agroforest,
cultivated with
spice trees, a forest?
No, is the answer
of local farmers
who manage it
and who regard it
as a garden
inherited from
their forebears.
For environmental campaigners
and the State of Morocco,
these argan groves are natural
forests, but they have been
domesticated by farmers
who consider them as part
of their heritage.
Did you know? The estimated total surface
area of the world’s forests depends on the definition
chosen. The resulting figures can differ by up to three
times. If, for example, one considers the Russian taiga, made up
of dwarf conifers, as a forest, the total figure increases by 20% •
30%
Forests cover
of Earth’s
emerged lands
4
MINISTÈRE
DES
AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÈRES
ET EUROPÉENNES
FTH/en - 2011
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