Historical evolution of forest management in Europe and in Japan
By Alessandro Paletto, Cristina Sereno and Hiromichi Furuido
Bulletin of the Tokyo University Forests, Vol.119 (2008)
Abstract: The analysis of the evolution of forest management in the historical periods is an important tool in estimating changes of society’s perception of forest resources. This paper describes in brief the historical evolution of forest management in Europe and in Japan and the motivations of these changes. In particular, the paper analyses three periods: pre-industrial (from the Middle-ages until the mid-17th century), industrial (from the mid-17th until the mid-20th century) and the post-industrial period (from the late-20th century until today). For every period it describes the main management systems adopted and the theoretical aspects that have determined their development.
Introduction: The current use of the English word ‘forestry’ indicates the management of forest resources to provide a satisfactory mix and quantity of social values for clients living, while protecting these values and use options for future generations. More specifically, in technical terms, “forests” is “land with tree crown cover (or equivalent stocking level) or more than 10 percent and area of more than 0.5 hectares. The trees should be able to reach a minimum height of 5m at the maturity in situ.” The origin of the term “forest” (“Forst” in German and “foret” in French) lies in the Middle Age Latin word “forestis” or “foresta” which indicated land, not necessarily woodland, mainly for hunting and secondly for the gathering of mushrooms, bark and other non-wood products.
The social perception of forest ecosystems has changed according to the interests and needs of human population with respect to the use of natural resources. Specifically it is possible to identify three historical periods:
- Pre-industrial period (from the Middle Ages until the mid-17th century)
- Industrial period (from the mid-17th until the mid-20th century)
- Post-industrial (from the late-20th century until today)
In each of these periods society elaborated new strategies and methods to find a rational management of forest resources.