Having surged past the six billion mark, the human population of the twenty-first century is making overwhelming demands on the earth and its forests. Although economic and political considerations once dominated the management of forests and land, in today's crowded world environmental concerns are rapidly emerging as dominant. This book, drawn from experience with the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development, presents a concise, accessible view of the current status of forests globally, of demands on them, and of their importance in maintaining a fully functional human habitat. The book also presents a major challenge in planning for land use in a full world where defense of the public interest becomes more and more difficult and demanding. Opening with an examination of forests and the effects of human activities on them, the book then considers the relationship of forests to global warming, agriculture, biotic impoverishment, water resources, and climate. Later chapters discuss the global wood supply, plantation forestry, and forests as a source of energy. The final chapters call for local and global planners to weigh the spiraling competitive demands for forest resources and to redefine what is in the public interest in the context of forests.