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The Daintree Rainforest near Cairns, in Queensland, Australia
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750–2000 mm (68–78 inches). The monsoon trough, part of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, plays a significant role in creating the climatic conditions necessary for the Earth's tropical rainforests.

Around 40% to 75% of all biotic species are indigenous to the rainforests. It has been estimated that there may be many millions of species of plants, insects and microorganisms still undiscovered in tropical rainforests. Tropical rainforests have been called the "jewels of the Earth" and the "world's largest pharmacy", because over one quarter of natural medicines have been discovered there. Rainforests are also responsible for 28% of the world's oxygen turnover, sometimes misnamed oxygen production, processing it through photosynthesis from carbon dioxide and consuming it through respiration.

The undergrowth in some areas of a rainforest can be restricted by poor penetration of sunlight to ground level. If the leaf canopy is destroyed or thinned, the ground beneath is soon colonized by a dense, tangled growth of vines, shrubs and small trees, called a jungle[citation needed]. There are two types of rainforest, tropical rainforest and temperate rainforest.


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Sustainable forest management (SFM) is the management of forests according to the principles of sustainable development.

A definition of SFM was developed by the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe MCPFE), and has since been adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

FOREST EUROPE and FAO define sustainable forest management as:

The stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfill, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national, and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems.

The "Forest Principles" adopted at The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 captured the general international understanding of sustainable forest management at that time. A number of sets of criteria and indicators have since been developed to evaluate the achievement of SFM at both the country and management unit level. These were all attempts to codify and provide for independent assessment of the degree to which the broader objectives of sustainable forest management are being achieved in practice. In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests. The instrument was the first of its kind, and reflected the strong international commitment to promote implementation of sustainable forest management through a new approach that brings all stakeholders together.


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Sunlight shining through redwoods in Muir Woods, California
Sequoia sempervirens includes the tallest trees on Earth, reaching up to 379 feet (115.5 m) in height. It is an evergreen, long-lived, monoecious tree living 1200–1800 years or more. This species includes the tallest trees living now on Earth, reaching up to 379 feet (115.5 m) in height (without the roots) and up to 26 feet (7.9 m) in diameter at breast height. Before commercial logging and clearing began by the 1850s, this massive tree occurred naturally in an estimated 2,100,000 acres (8,500 km2) along much of coastal California (excluding southern California where rainfall is not sufficient) and the southwestern corner of coastal Oregon within the United States. An estimated 95% or more of the original old-growth redwood forest has been cut down, due to its excellent properties for use as lumber in construction.


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A grove of Quaking Aspen and Lodgepole Pine in the spring
Shoshone National Forest is the first federally protected National Forest in the United States and covers nearly 2.5 million acres (10,000 km²) in the state of Wyoming. Originally a part of the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve, the forest was created by an act of Congress and signed into law by U.S. President Benjamin Harrison in 1891. There are four wilderness areas within the forest, protecting more than half of the managed land area from development. From sagebrush plains through dense spruce and fir forest to craggy mountain peaks, Shoshone National Forest has a rich biodiversity rarely matched in any protected area.

Three major mountain ranges are partially in the forest: the Absaroka, the Beartooth and the Wind River Range. Yellowstone National Park forms part of the boundary to the west; south of Yellowstone, the Continental Divide separates the forest from its neighbor, the Bridger-Teton National Forest, to the west. The eastern boundary includes privately owned property, lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Wind River Indian Reservation, which belongs to the Shoshone and Arapahoe Indians. Custer National Forest along the Montana border is the boundary to the north.