Training Tomorrow's Forest Managers
to Future Forests-]
Photo by Jack Walas
Getting an education in forest resources
has changed from the 1920s when students attending forestry camp lived
alongside hard driving loggers during a north woods winter. Forestry
today is a high tech balancing act of ecology, engineering, timber
production, public recreation and financial planning. Not surprisingly,
computers and global positioning systems have become as crucial to
foresters as chainsaws are to woodcutters.
Today's forestry students receive training in all of these areas, says
David Field, chair of the Department of Forest Management. They learn to
use satellite-based remote sensing to identify changes in forested
landscapes. They gain experience with the tools of the woods trade from
draft horses to skidders and Swedish low impact logging systems. They
learn to put forest resources into an increasingly integrated global
economic and environmental context.
At its heart, Field adds, forestry provides the skill and knowledge to
grow trees. "That's what we do that distinguishes foresters from other
professionals. But our degree programs are very broad. They prepare
students for a wide variety of careers," he adds.
Demand is increasing for foresters among public agencies and the private
sector. The U.S. Forest Service expects to see a large portion of its
foresters retire within the next five years. Across the country, the
federal government, including the Department of Defense, employs the
largest contingent of foresters. In Maine, professionals working for
non-industrial landowners manage the overwhelming majority of forested
"Forestry is an exciting and demanding profession," says Field. "It's
not easy. It is based in science, and there is increasing integration of
the U.S. forest economy with Asia, Europe and South America." Broad
skills and practical experience put professional foresters at the
forefront of sustainable environmental management, Field adds.