What is the difference in usage? What associations does the former word trigger that the latter does not (and vice versa)?


The NOAD reports that silviculture means the growing and cultivation of trees, while forestry means the science or practice of planting, managing, and caring for forests. If I say I am a silviculturist, I don't mean I plant forests.

The other grammatical difference between the words is that there are two derivates of silviculture (silvicultural, silviculturist), but there aren't derivates of forestry with similar meaning.

  • Speaking about equivalents, could forester (AHD: “One who is trained in forestry”) and forestal (OED: “Of or pertaining to a forest”) possibly be used? – user3286 Jan 31 '11 at 21:21
  • Forestal (which strangely is not reported in the NOAD) and forestation are derivates of forest, not forestry. I updated the answer to reflect what I really meant. – kiamlaluno Feb 1 '11 at 3:15
  • Would it perhaps be helpful and accurate to mention a tree farm as a place where one would practice "silviculture" but not "forestry", or to suggest that someone who cares for animals or plants other than trees in a forest might be practicing "forestry" but not "silviculture"? – supercat Nov 15 '13 at 17:03

I think the main difference would be that silviculture applies to any tree, while forestry only to the ones in a forest.

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    Except that M-W defines silviculture as "a branch of forestry dealing with the development and care of forests" and Wiktionary has it as "The care and development of forests in order to obtain a product or provide a benefit; forestry." And indeed the root silvi comes from the Latin for forest, not tree. – Marthaª Jan 31 '11 at 20:15
  • @Martha: That should be an answer, the one I want to click up on! – Orbling Jan 31 '11 at 20:22
  • Also, AHD defines it as “The care and cultivation of forest trees; forestry,” RHUWD defines it as “the cultivation of forest trees; forestry,” the OED has it as “The cultivation of woods or forests; the growing and tending of trees as a department of forestry,” Wikipedia as “the practice of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests,” and Chamber's as “Forestry.” Which is why I am at a loss. There seems to be no clear consensus between all the dictionaries. – user3286 Jan 31 '11 at 20:26
  • @Orbling: fully answering this question would require researching the contexts where each word is used, and I don't presently have time for that. – Marthaª Jan 31 '11 at 20:27
  • Where I checked (the Dashboard Dictionary on a Mac), silviculture was described as meaning "the growing and cultivation of trees" and silva as wood. I do remember silva meaning forest, but I was misled by the dictionary. I apologize! – Grewe Kokkor Jan 31 '11 at 21:07

"Silviculture" to me, never having heard it before, just sounds like it's pretentious. Like a 'Garbage removal expert'.

I admit I'm outside my specialism, though, so there may be some distinction in the field. And I know people who are irritated by people calling themselves 'software engineers' when in reality they're just 'programmers' putting on airs...

  • There are a lot of questions on Programmers.SE about the whole SE vs Programmers argument. I would say there is a difference, but a small one. – Orbling Jan 31 '11 at 20:21
  • Absolutely, and I have my own idea of what the difference is. My point is that whether there's a distinction between the two phrases, and what that distinction is, is sometimes a subjective one - and that sounds like it might also be the case here. – ijw Feb 1 '11 at 13:09

Silviculture involve on field not science ie a farmer can involve on Silviculture but forestry is science related to forest ie M.Sc. in forestry


Afforestation is the planting of trees in a barren land to increase forest area while silviculture deals with the growth,establishment, development, care and regeneration of stand (plant)

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    Welcome to English Language & Usage! Please consider adding references to your answer. For example, cite a dictionary entry, or quote a paragraph where this is used in context. – Glorfindel Apr 12 '19 at 9:26