Forest Components

Deliberation of trees. ©J.P. Kruf

Oldeman, R.A.A. , Schmidt, P. and Arnolds, E.J.M. (1990)

Per 1986, the Dutch Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries approved the five-year financial protection of a research theme ‘conservation and use of forest components’. This system of protected funding was meant to improve the quality of University research, in particular by stimulating researchers in related fields but from different University Departments to work on a common theme of their choice. Existing scientific lines of these researchers were thought to gain plus-value by intensifying contacts with others, by exposing them to discussions yielding new view points, and finally to allow them to adjust their research more closely to a common goal.

All those who know the busy University schedules and the growing restrictions on effective researchtime, i.e. time not limited to isolated half hours between teaching and meetings, understood that the implementation of these splendid aims of oriented cooperation would cost time and go slowly. One of the ways in which Universities can correct this is the choice of appropriate subjects for graduate studies, and this has been systematically promoted for ‘Forest Components’ since years before the official programme was started.

Oldeman et al. (1990): “The group that was responsible for the forest components theme decided to accelerate the process by starting an ambitious project, the writing of a common book. There is no way in which cooperation can be stimulated better, but this way has to be learned and practised too. The result is now before you.

The book is not yet ideal in our opinion because it still contains too many traces of the old University tradition of researchers working, each apart, on such narrow subjects as they know best.

This way of executing the research of course is necessary to reach sufficient depth. But it carries the risk of loss of vision of the whole system, parts of which are studied. Still a little bit unbalanced, but on its way to improve along lines that are more clear now, this presentation in a pluridisciplinary way is a first step, however, to overcome both the limits of individual researchers and the shallowness of groups.

We trust, however, that it is exactly this wrestling with integration of broad views versus the deepening of restricted views that may be as interesting to the reader as the facts, figures, conclusions and hypotheses on forests and their components which are presented in the following pages. On the brink of the last decennium of this century, it is hoped that this book may find its way to both specialists and generalists, and that most of its contents may also be of significance for the European forest managers.”

Oldeman et al. (1990, p.8): “It is therefore proposed to reserve the notion of ‘pattern’ or in any case ‘architecture’ (Hallé & Oldeman, 1970) of systems to properties that can be directly seen and mapped, being linked to objects occupying a three-dimensional volume. Even if mapping or plotting are automatic, potential visibility by eye is a good criterion to end confusion. Architectural patterns, according to Hallé et al. (1978) are instant pictures. Their change may be indicated as dynamics (Hallé et al., 1978; Fanta, 1986). Dynamics are not processes, if the notion of process is reserved for underlying, organized movements at hierarchical levels deep within the system considered, such as energy and matter processing in photosynthesis or maintenance respiration (cf. Mohren, 1987).”

Fanta, J. (ed.) (1986). Forest dynamics research in Western and Central Europe. Wageningen: Pudoc, p.320.

Hallé, F. and Oldeman, R. (1970). Essai sur l’architecture et la dynamique de croissance des arbres tropicaux. Paris: Masson & Cie, p.178.

Hallé, F., Oldeman, R. and Tomlinson P. (1978). Tropical trees and forests: an architectural analysis. Heidelberg: Springer, p.441.

Mohren, G. (1987). Simulation of forest growth, applied to douglas fir stands in The Netherlands. D.Sc. thesis, AUW Theor. Prod. Ecology/Silvic. & For. Ecology, Wageningen, p.183.

Oldeman, R., Schmidt, P. and Arnolds, E. (1990). Forest components. Wageningen: Wageningen Agricultural University Papers, ISSN0169-345X; 90-6, 111 pp.