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Forests are one of the dominant forms of land cover on earth, and forested landscapes are central in constituting human environment relationships. Human relations with forests are also highly specific, complex, and dynamic, featuring considerable historical and geographical variation, making a universal definition of what actually constitutes a forest difficult.

Nevertheless, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) does attempt to define and track forest cover: “Land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of more than 10 percent, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ.” Even in this basic definition, there is evidence of some subjectivity and convention, as these standards would seemingly exclude much of the far northern boreal forests. Forested ...

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