Forest management is a branch of forestry concerned with overall administrative, legal, economic, and social aspects, as well as scientific and technical aspects, such as silviculture, protection, and forest regulation. This includes management for timber, aesthetics, recreation, urban values, water, wildlife, inland and nearshore fisheries, wood products, plant genetic resources, and other forest resource values.
Management objectives can be for conservation, utilisation, or a mixture of the two. Techniques include timber extraction, planting and replanting of different species, building and maintenance of roads and pathways through forests, and preventing fire.
The forest is a natural system that can supply different products and services. Forests supply water, mitigate climate change, provide habitats for wildlife including many pollinators which are essential for sustainable food production, provide timber and fuelwood, serve as a source of non-wood forest products including food and medicine, and contribute to rural livelihoods.
The working of this system is influenced by the natural environment: climate, topography, soil, etc., and also by human activity. The actions of humans in forests constitute forest management. In developed societies, this management tends to be elaborated and planned in order to achieve the objectives that are considered desirable.
Some forests have been and are managed to obtain traditional forest products such as firewood, fiber for paper, and timber, with little thinking for other products and services. Nevertheless, as a result of the progression of environmental awareness, management of forests for multiple use is becoming more common.