Forests are ecosystems; a dynamic, constantly changing community of living things, interacting with non-living components. Forests are valued on social, environmental, cultural and economic factors, and are used, loved and appreciated by most people.
Forests in Australia cover approximately 125 million hectares or 16% of the Australian land mass, and include around 3% of the global forest area (DAWR, 2014). Forests are areas of land dominated by tree cover that can reach at least 2 metres height at maturity, and include all other living and non-living things within, such as animals, plants, soil and water.
We need forests. They provide wood and non-timber products and services, play a key role in the fight against climate change, make an important contribution to our economy through supporting regional communities, as well as providing excellent opportunities for recreation and tourism.
Trees are essential to life on earth, performing an amazing, life-sustaining role through their ability to combine sunlight, water, nutrients and carbon dioxide to produce woody biomass and release oxygen that supports all life.
Forestry is the practical application of scientific, economic and social principles used in the establishment and management of forests. It encompasses the management of natural forests and woodlands, plantations, and the various combinations of trees and agriculture known as agroforestry or farm forestry. The practitioners of forest and plantation management are known as forest scientists, or foresters.
Australian forests provide us with products we use everyday. From house frames to floorboards, furniture to newspapers, forests are essential to everyday life. Not only do forests supply timber for our needs and employment for local industry, they are also managed to protect animal habitats, and air and water quality. Plus they provide for a myriad of recreational opportunities; from bushwalking, camping and bird watching, to mountain bike riding, car rallies and adventure sports.
The challenge for foresters is to balance the competing needs and uses of forests. The future of our forests is in the hands of professional foresters trained to sustainably manage these valuable natural resources.
Many of the resources contained in the forestlearning website address these facts in ways that are relevant to the particular age of the student and also in a way that addresses the Australian Curriculum requirements.
For more detailed information about forests, go to the FAQ section on the website.