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(the study of forests), the branch of knowledge that deals with the nature of forests and their constituent trees and shrubs, grassy-brush and moss-lichen covers, and vegetation that does not belong to any particular forest layer; the geographic distribution of forests; and their relation to their habitat (temperature, precipitation, the soil and its microorganisms, and fauna).
The lawlike regularities that have been established through comprehensive study of the forest and that are applied in the measures aimed at the rational exploitation of forest resources have long been studied by plant breeders. However, they did not become the basis for an independent science—silvics—until the early 20th century. Between 1902 and 1912, G. F. Morozov founded the study of forests, which he was the first to call silvics. He drew heavily on V. K. Dokuchaev’s study of the zonality of the soil cover and considered the experience of technicians and a number of forest scientists, including N. D. Sukhodskii, V. Ia. Dobrovlianskii, D. M. Kravchinskii, G. M. Vysotskii, and M. K. Turskii. According to Morozov, silvics is the theoretical basis for forestry. It studies the biological characteristics and silvicultural properties of forest species and stands, the zonal types of forests, and the principles governing the succession of species in their natural development and after main use cuttings and natural disasters (for example, forest fires). The types of forests and the corresponding types of growing conditions are defined in terms of the most important principles of the formation and development of the forest as a complex plant community. The specific features of the types of forests and their combination into groups and formations are taken into account in working out the principles of geobotanical (forestry) regionali-zation, in undertaking the large-scale mapping of forest areas, and in working out a rational organization for and methods of forest management. The principles of biogeocenology developed by V. N. Sukachev, who made important generalizations on silvics and improved the method of comprehensive biogeocenology research, have played a major role in the development of silvics.
In the course of its development, silvics has drawn on the physicogeographic, biological, and other sciences and has taken into account the economy, thus ensuring the comprehensive development of the national economy as well as the use, restoration, and protection of forest resources. The diverse natural conditions in the USSR and the related features of Soviet forest management are reflected in the development of the specialized fields of taiga, steppe, and mountain silvics, as well as in the appearance of the rudiments of desert and tropical specializations.
In the USSR research in silvics is conducted at the silvics laboratories of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (AN SSSR), the Forest and Timber Institute of the Siberian Branch of the AN SSSR, and many other scientific and applied-science institutions and organizations. A silvics curriculum is offered by forestry educational institutes and by biology departments at universities and technicums in the USSR and some foreign countries. Information on silvics is published in a number of journals, including Botanicheskii zhurnal (Botanical Journal; since 1916), Lesnoe khoziaistvo (Forest Management; since 1948), and Leso-vedenie (Silvics; since 1967). In most foreign countries the problems considered by the Soviet discipline of silvics are studied by forestry specialists.
REFERENCESMorozov, G. F. “Uchenie o lese.” Izbr. trudy, vol. 1. Moscow, 1970.
Melekhov, I. S. Ocherk razvitiia nauki o lese v Rossii. Moscow, 1957.
Melekhov, I. S. Lesovedenie i lesovodstvo, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1972.
N. E. KABANOV