The word “forest” originates from the Latin word “foris”, which translates to outside. That leaves the door open to a broad interpretation of what, exactly, a forest is. In fact, in these terms, a forest is not so much defined by what it is, but instead, by all the things that it could be.
Considering this etymology, it’s no surprise that most people have their own unique view of what a forest is. Social concepts of forests are dynamic, change over time, and vary vastly between geographies and across cultures. What constitutes a forest? What should an ideal forest look like? How should it be managed?
There are no absolute answers to these questions. What is true, is that each human has their own ideas as to what forests are, and should be. The successful conservation of tropical forests requires democratic processes that support the various ways in which local people, businesses, and communities value their forests.
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