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

5 Answers 5


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
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 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.
    – avpaderno
    Commented Feb 1, 2011 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
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 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
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 at 20:15
  • @Martha: That should be an answer, the one I want to click up on!
    – Orbling
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 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
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 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
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 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! Commented Jan 31, 2011 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
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 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
    Commented Feb 1, 2011 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
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 9:26