How Man Affects Forest Ecosystems

  • Klaus Stern
  • Laurence Roche
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 6)


The effects of man on forest ecosystems have been, and continue to be, very great. As Darling (1956) has pointed out, “Man advances materially and ultimately in his civilization by breaking into the stored wealth of the world’s natural ecological climaxes.” To this advance forest ecosystems have contributed abundantly, and continue to do so. However, in the process, regions of the world have been denuded of forests as a result of man’s activities, and history has recorded that, though the immediate exploiter has gained materially, mankind has suffered harshly as a consequence. Much human misery through subsequent centuries may be attributed to the elimination of the great forest resources of the Mediterranean basin at the end of antiquity, and of Central Europe during the 12 th and 13 th centuries (Darby, 1956; Sartoriüs and Henle, 1968). Today it is possible to see the ruins of great cities in the midst of deserts. The land has changed drastically and regions once highly fertile and capable of supporting large populations can now support only a few nomadic tribes at a subsistence level. It has been speculated that the major cause of the spread of deserts through once fertile regions has been climatic changes resulting in gradual desiccation of these regions. However, accumulating evidence now suggests that man and not climate must be held accountable for the encroachment of deserts into the fertile lands of ancient empires. The headwaters of the Tigris and the Euphrates lie in areas that in the past were densely populated, and that have been overgrazed and deforested.


Forest Ecosystem Natural Regeneration Seed Orchard Tropical Rain Forest Silvicultural System 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Klaus Stern
    • 1
  • Laurence Roche
    • 2
  1. 1.Büsgenweg 2Federal Republic of Germany
  2. 2.Department of ForestryUniversity of IbadanIbadanNigeria

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