The scientific study of forest species and their interaction with the environment is referred to as forest ecology, while the management of forests is often referred to as forestry. Forest management has changed considerably over the last few centuries, with rapid changes from the 1980s onwards culminating in a practice now referred to as sustainable forest management.
Forest ecologists concentrate on forest patterns and processes, usually with the aim of elucidating cause and effect relationships. Foresters who practice sustainable forest management focus on the integration of ecological, social and economic values, often in consultation with local communities and other stakeholders.
Anthropogenic factors that can affect forests include logging, human-caused forest fires, acid rain, and introduced species, among other things. There are also many natural factors that can also cause changes in forests over time including forest fires, insects, diseases, weather, competition between species, etc. In 1997, the World Resources Institute recorded that only 20 per cent of the world’s original forests remained in large intact tracts of undisturbed forest.19 More than 75 per cent of these intact forests lie in three countries – the Boreal forests of Russia and Canada and the rainforest of Brazil.