Forests provide many things that people need to survive. Some trees grow fruit that we can eat, and most trees can be cut down and used to build houses or to fuel fires that keep us warm. Forests are also the home of many different types of plants and animals.
Trees make oxygen that we need to breathe, and they help hold dirt in place so it doesn’t wash away when it rains. But while trees may look big and strong, they can be hurt by both natural and human actions. The study of how to manage and protect forests is called forestry, and it’s important to keep our planet healthy.
What Is Forestry?
Forestry is both a science and a craft. It involves every part of caring for forests. Foresters plan and create new forests. They also protect and work on repairing existing forests. They oversee the harvesting of commercial forests, which provides the materials to make things like lumber and paper.
Forestry is used to manage natural and human-made forests. Foresters can work in a lot of different places, like parks where people go hiking or camping, logging companies that harvest and replant trees, and environmental agencies that work to protect the forests.
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Types of Forests
The world has many different kinds of forests. Forests can be found almost everywhere. Deserts, some types of prairies, the tops of some mountain ranges, and the north and south poles don’t have forests, but most places do. Forests come in different kinds, though, depending on where they grow, what the climate is like there, and what sorts of trees are in them.
Forests can also be grouped by how they’re used: Some forests are commercial forests, and these are places where the trees are grown so they can be cut down to make paper and lumber. Other forests are in parks and preserves, and these trees are protected for people and animals to enjoy.
There are two basic kinds of trees: hardwoods and softwoods. Hardwoods have larger leaves, and their seeds are found in fruits or dry clusters. Apple, hickory, maple, and oak trees are hardwoods.
Most hardwoods in North America lose their leaves each fall. These are known as deciduous hardwoods. Most softwoods are evergreen. This means they stay green year-round, and only drop some needles.
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Managing the Forest
Forest management is a specific type of forestry. The management of forests focuses on things like balancing a logging company’s need to make money with the need to keep forests healthy, pursuing lawsuits when people break laws that protect the forests and guiding scientists who work to keep plants healthy and protect animals.
Management can focus on preserving a forest, using it for commercial reasons, or a combination of both. It can also include things like planning the building of new roads, preventing wildfires, and planting new forests.
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Protecting the Forest
One area of forestry is forest protection, which focuses on protecting and improving forests. Foresters work to prevent both human-caused and natural harm to forests. Types of human-caused harm include poorly planned logging, pollution, and cities encroaching on forests. Natural harm includes insects that damage trees and forest fires with natural causes.
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Careers in Forestry
Many of the first professional foresters worked for the government. It was a job for people who loved being outdoors. These early foresters were mainly focused on preventing forest fires and stopping illegal logging.
Today, foresters usually major in forest science in college. Many colleges offer forest science degrees. Most foresters still work for the government: The biggest employer of foresters is the United States Forest Service.
But some foresters work for logging companies, help regular people to manage the trees in their yards, teach others about protecting forests, work at public parks as forest rangers, or do research on how to help keep trees healthy or control insects that hurt trees.
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Why Pursuing a Forestry Degree is a Good Move
If you are a nature lover and you are keen on ecosystem health and national forests, a forestry degree is a good career path. Students interested in natural resources should study forestry as this is a fulfilling career.
Not only do forestry students enjoy the physical and mental health forestry degrees give them, but this is also one profession that is very in demand. Employment opportunities are expected to grow over time.
For graduating high school students, your goal towards becoming forestry professionals starts with understanding the reasons why forestry education is important.
Reason # 1.: You Can Protect Forests for the Future Generations
For the longest time, conservation scientists have called for the use of forests and trees for mitigating the current global issues of climate change. As natural resources bloom and trees grow, they soak up water and store carbon dioxide.
When carbon dioxide (and sunlight and water) turns into wood, it releases oxygen into the air, and this also helps the soil get ample amounts of carbon as well.
As of 2020, forests account for roughly 80% of the earth’s biodiversity from 31% of the worldwide land area. People heavily rely on forest resources to get potable water to drink and clean air to breathe, nuts, fruits, and raw materials like timber in building houses, furniture, and even skyscrapers. Thus, forestry workers are always needed for forest conservation projects.
By getting a forestry degree, you will have a crucial part in forest ecosystems, forestry management, and even ecological restoration. You will play an integral role in keeping the planet’s biodiversity safe, making sure that food security and natural resources for future generations are well taken care of.
Reason # 2: Studying Forestry is Good for Your Mental Health
According to studies, those who spend more time in the natural world outdoors, specifically near forests and trees, are likely to have good health. One of the most obvious benefits of being in touch with the natural resources around you is a boost in your mood.
When you spend your time in forest lands, this helps your brain to have a break, thus resulting in a more focused and renewed ability to be patient. Enjoying the forest ecosystems also results in mental clarity and gives you a more re-energized feeling.
Reason # 3: You Learn Specializes Skills thru Forestry Careers
A forestry major is very crucial in improving, managing, and preserving forests. At some point, forest areas will face so many challenges: natural disasters, destructions, catastrophic wildfires, and even land-use development by private landowners.
Regardless of the forestry career paths– fire ecologists, urban foresters, conservation scientists, forest technicians, forest firefighters, forest and conservation technicians, and other forestry professionals, these paths will require ample skills; skills that you will acquire as you work on your forestry degree.
Following this career path, a forestry education will give you a deep understanding and practical skills in hydrology, soil health, and forest engineering, and will help you analyze ecosystem health in general.
Although forest management is not as popular as most science-based areas like engineering, wildlife biology, or chemistry, having a degree in forestry will not only challenge you intellectually. When you choose this career path, you are bound to land in different specializations and fields.
Reason # 4: You Will Work in an In-Demand Field
Forestry careers have been in the industry since the 1800s, and until today, the demand is continuously growing. Because of the constant effects of climate change, conservation scientists and foresters are always needed in forestry projects worldwide in a bid to help protect one of the world’s most important natural resources: trees.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the forestry management industry is projected to increase by 4% from 2022 to 2032. This is a lot faster than any occupation, especially in the field of wildfire management like wildfire prevention, suppression, and mitigation.
When scouting for work, most qualified foresters work for local governments. Others go on to become forest managers or forest technicians and work for a state or provincial unit for the federal government, or even in the United States government.
In forestry work, professional foresters dealing with environmental issues, range management, and other forestry work, earn an annual average salary of $64,420 especially if they are working for the government.
Reason # 5: Studying Forestry Gives You Long-Term Health Benefits
If you love the outdoors, a forestry degree is your gateway toward getting the perfect job to match that passion. Working outdoors is like giving yourself more insurance policy for your overall health. You will be spending more time outdoors than any average person.
Planting seedlings, for example, helps you reduce stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol- both linked to a compromised immune system and chronic inflammation if not correctly regulated.
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Top Forestry Careers
Students majoring in forestry study the science and practice of managing and conserving forested areas and woodlands. When you pursue this program, you are preparing yourself how to maintain diversity and manage the forest ecosystem.
From a forest manager to a harvest manager, a forest biometrician to conservation technicians, a high school diploma is not enough for these jobs. You need to get a degree. Aside from forestry, you can also pursue other areas in forestry like agricultural science, natural resources, and environmental science.
Once you complete the degree and undergo different training programs, it’s easier for you to land a career in forestry. Here are some of the jobs you can land once you complete a forestry degree.
With a national average salary of $17.48 per hour, these professionals prevent, actively fight, and control wildfires and fire lines. They recognize hazards connected with wildlife habitats and check areas of vegetation.
Wildland firefighters use specialized equipment and tactics in suppressing forest fires and keeping a natural resources site safe and healthy, among others. They also utilize fire to aid the growth of a forest by mimicking natural wildfires and are responsible for fire prevention as a whole.
Environmental scientists, with a national average salary of $71,849 per year, protect our world’s forest health and ecosystem. These professionals gather critical data on wildlife, invasive species, and soil quality. They also help actively in regrowing forests by cultivating flora and fauna or planting seeds.
Environmental scientists also supervise logging companies and guarantee that the forest ecology is not adversely affected by timber use.
Also called park rangers, they supervise forest health, wildlife populations, and parks. They also monitor ecological and wildlife changes, collect forest data and educate visitors.
Wardens and rangers also conduct search and rescue operations, enforce laws in coordination with federal agencies, and prevent forest fires. And just like forest and conservation technicians, they can also collect significant data on wildlife and make on-site reports.
Conservation Science Professor
The primary duty of a conservation science professor is to educate students on what they should know to become conservation scientists, foresters, and more. They can also organize lesson plans, give lectures on all forest-related subjects like land management, prepare students for their on-the-job training and assessment, and even design labs.
These are the people responsible for the collection of data on wildlife society. They record species, types, and availability of standing timbers, as well as supervise and implement plans for clearing lands and planting new trees. Silviculturists also secure contracts with various logging companies and secure trees that are not yet fit for timber.
To become a silviculturist, you must have a thorough background of a tree’s history, its nutrient requirement, how it can adapt to environmental conditions,
Wildlife biologists monitor the health of wildlife populations. They also check businesses like logging companies and identify whether the shifting or removal of resources will impact wildlife negatively.
These professionals also work with the local and federal governments to ensure the continuous reproduction of endangered wildlife and monitor the stability of the ecological community.
Foresters care for the overall growth and well-being of trees and plants, and this usually entails conservation and land management. Sometimes, they are required to plant new trees or remove ones for sustainable timber use.
These forestry workers are also responsible for supervising technicians and wildlife protection. They recognize and assess project completions according to law to ensure that these projects do not impact nature negatively.
They are the ones who manage street trees, public parks, and all other areas of greenery in a city. They also maintain the health of different varieties of trees and other plants in high-volume areas like parking lots, forested retreats, and office sites.
To be a horticulturist, you should have an artistic eye because you will also be designing beautiful sceneries for large communities that people can enjoy. You will also create aesthetically pleasing landscapes by strategically placing trees and shrubs, trimming and shaping them, and even controlling pests with help from Terminix in Wisconsin.
An amenity horticulturist earns an average (national) salary of $17.15 per hour.
Related Link: A Guide To Forestry and Conservation