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How is Forestry practiced on publicly owned land?



Most urban parks are intended primarily for recreation. Urban foresters must consider the needs and desires of recreational users, realizing that some uses may conflict with others. Issues such as public safety and the impact of public use on the natural resources must also be considered.

Urban forest: Trees that are growing in cities and towns collectively make up an “urban forest.” These trees help to improve air and water quality, add beauty to the urban landscape, increase property values, provide food and cover for urban wildlife, and provide shade and temperature moderation. Individuals who have specialized training in the care and maintenance of this forest resource are known as “urban foresters.” In addition to their knowledge of trees, urban foresters must also have some background in land use planning and be familiar with the workings of community government.


Trees are a particular concern to those who manage telephone and power lines, water lines, sewers and other utilities. To maintain a beautiful, green urban landscape without interfering with utilities is a challenge. Successfully meeting this challenge begins by consulting with an urban forester, arborist or nurseryman to select the proper trees to plant in an urban setting.


State Forests

First established in 1903, Indiana’s state forest system has grown to include 13 properties that occupy about 150,000 acres. When the state acquired what is now state forestland, almost every acre was comprised of eroding farm fields, pasture, or cut-over timberland considered to have very little value to anyone. Many early management activities were aimed at stopping erosion and restoring the productive potential of the land. The techniques used to manage the forests evolved as the forests grew. Less emphasis was needed on tree planting and more emphasis was placed on managing new stands of trees. Management activities such as timber stand improvement and selective harvesting were used to upgrade the quality of the stands and increase tree growth. This emphasis on stand improvement continues today, with the goal of improving not only timber production, but all forest resources. Indiana’s state forests provide many benefits, including timber production, recreation, wildlife habitat, cultural, archaeological and watershed protection. The needs of society for wood and fiber are balanced with other intangible needs, while protecting natural and cultural resources of our forests.

  • Timber stand improvement (TSI): Any practice intended to improve the health and vigor of a forest stand of trees is referred to under the collective term of TSI. Examples of such practices include cutting vines, thinning over-crowded stands, and deadening cull trees that are competing with more valuable trees.
  • Selective harvesting: When trees are chosen and cut individually in a forest stand (as opposed to the clearing of all trees in a given area), this is referred to as selective harvesting.

Other publically owned land

This category includes other state-owned forestland such as state parks, fish & wildlife areas, nature preserves, etc., as well as forestland owned by municipal, county and federal governments. The management objectives and public uses of these lands are very diverse. Again, foresters must balance public needs and desires while maintaining the integrity of the forest.