Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (1.8 MB)

Related Research Highlights

Picture of Scientists Examine the Future of Forests in the Anthropocene
Scientists Examine the Future of Forests in the Anthropocene

Title: Forest futures in the Anthropocene: Can trees and humans survive together?

Author: Bengston, David; Dockry, Michael J.;

Date: 2014

Source: The Futurist. 48(4): 34-39.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Foresters and futurists share a long-range perspective. The lengthy growing cycle of trees has compelled foresters to plan decades and even hundreds of years ahead, in contrast to the short-term view of most fields. The interconnected nature of forest ecosystems has also given foresters—like futurists—a systems perspective. As the American naturalist John Muir said, "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world." The world's forests range from sparsely populated wilderness to urban forests, from lush tropical rain forests to the vast boreal forests of the North. Thirty-one percent of the Earth's land area and 30% of the United States is covered by forests. Healthy forests provide a wide range of ecosystem services, natural assets that are vital to human wellbeing and livelihood. For example, forests sequester carbon from the atmosphere; contain about 90% of the Earth's terrestrial biodiversity; provide a home for wildlife; protect watersheds; regulate the water cycle; create scenic landscapes; provide cultural, recreational, and spiritual opportunities; and produce goods such as timber, fuelwood, fodder, and other non-timber forest products. The list of forest goods and services goes on ad infinitum. Despite their importance, the future of forests is by no means clear in what some have called the "Anthropocene," the epoch we are entering in which the impacts of human activities increasingly dominate Earth's ecosystems. The actions of people have always influenced forests, but the increased pace and magnitude of change in human systems poses many challenges for these ecological life-support systems. This article looks at some of the major issues and factors affecting forests in the decades ahead: defor-estation, mega-fires, urban forests and growing urban populations, the end of wilderness, and water. Potential "game changers" for forest ecosystems include bioenergy and wood-based nanomaterials, synthetic biology, and runaway climate change.

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • This publication may be available in hard copy. Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
  • Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact Sharon Hobrla, if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.



Bengston, David; Dockry, Michael J. 2014. Forest futures in the Anthropocene: Can trees and humans survive together?. The Futurist. 48(4): 34-39.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.