Silvology: the study of forests and woods, incoporating both the understanding of natural forest ecosystems and the design of silvicultural systems.
I wrote previously about my personal search for a description of my profession, and how I arrived at the term silvologist. It may not be a perfect term for etymologists as it mixes Latin silva or sylva (forests, woods) with Ancient Greek ology (study). However, it perfectly describes the study of forests and woods, which no other term achieves, for example:
- dendrology – study of trees (i.e. not forests)
- silviculturist – managing the culture of forests (i.e. not the study of forests)
- forester – managing forests
- arborist – managing individual trees
I don’t lay claim to having coined the term silvology but I aim to promote it. I believe that it was used first by Roeloff Oldeman over 20 years ago1 but has never been widely adopted. He described it as the science of forest ecosystems “without the usual division of man and nature”. He sought a single science for forestry, that integrated the study of forests and forest ecology, from single tree autecology to complex natural forest systems.
1 R. A. A. Oldeman (1990). Forests: elements of silvology. Springer-Verlag, Berlin. 624 pages. ISBN 0-387-51883-5. (see Amazon.com)