Coulombe, Mary J. American Forest and Paper Association, Washington, DC.
Last reviewed:April 2019
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- Forest types
- Environmental influences
- Ecological processes and hydrologic cycle
- Forestry and forest management
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A plant community consisting predominantly of trees and other woody vegetation growing closely together. Forests are complex ecosystems comprising plants, animals, and their environment, with trees as the dominant form of vegetation (Fig. 1). Trees can be large and densely packed, as they are in the coastal forests of the Pacific Northwest, or they can be relatively small and sparsely scattered, as they are in the dry tropical forests of sub-Saharan Africa. Forests cover about one-fourth of the land area on Earth and have important functions, including cleansing the air, moderating the climate, filtering water, cycling nutrients, and providing habitat. In addition to performing a number of other vital environmental services, forests supply a variety of valuable products, ranging from pharmaceuticals and greenery to lumber and paper products. The study and management of forested lands is termed forestry. See also: Forest ecosystem; Forest engineering; Forest timber resources; Forestry; Lumber; Wood products
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