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Foresters manage a variety of aspects of forested lands. Foresters arrange for the harvesting of timber from landowners. This includes a complete survey of the location, type, and amount of available timber. This process is called timber cruising. With this information, and the consent of federal agencies, they arrange a contract for a logging company to harvest the timber. Foresters must carefully consider the environmental impact that logging can have on wildlife habitats, water supplies, and soil stability. They must also address the need to preserve forests for recreational purposes.

Foresters also implement plans for growing new trees. This process is called regeneration. They carefully choose a site, clear brush and other debris, decide on the type and amount of trees to be planted, and closely monitor the overall health of the trees.

Foresters rely on several different tools. Clinometers measure tree height, increment borers and bark gauges measure tree growth, and diameter tapes measure the diameter of trees. Foresters also use aerial photographs and satellite imagery to assist in the monitoring of large land areas.

Education and Training

In the U.S., foresters may need the following education and training:

  • a bachelor's degree in forestry is required for most positions
  • certain licensing requirements including completion of a bachelor's program in forestry and a passing grade on an exam must be met in some states

On the Job

Foresters spend much of their time outdoors conducting fieldwork. This may place them in remote locations working under harsh conditions. Foresters may walk long distances through densely wooded areas, help fight forest fires, and deal with all kinds of inclement weather. The remainder of a forester's time is usually spent in an office or laboratory. While much of a forester's work is carried out alone, foresters also consult with other forestry experts, landowners, loggers, government officials, and members of special interest groups.

Math on the Job

Foresters collect data, make measurements, and perform a wide variety of mathematical calculations. Their calculations help them to prepare financial contracts, predict timber demand, determine inventory, address environmental concerns, and manage regeneration projects.

Related Careers

  • conservationist
  • agricultural scientist
  • environmental engineer
  • wildlife manager
  • soil scientist

You can get more information about careers in forestry from the following sites:
Society of American Foresters (SAF)
USDA Forest Service