The forest is home to many things. You can even say that it is such a diverse and complex system in itself. Aside from the trees and plants, a forest’s ecosystem can include fish, wildlife, soil and water. In a modern society that is constantly requiring these resources (among many others), much effort must be put into the preservation of these natural environments and aim for sustainable use of forest resources.
Although there may be many different aspects of this field, that is basically what forestry is. For Michigan State University, forestry is “the art and science of managing forest resources”, and the University of British Columbia defines it as “the science, art and practice of understanding, managing and using wisely the natural resources associated with, and derived from forest lands.” These are just two of many institutions offering forestry courses.
Entrance into a forestry degree program varies from institution to institution. Some universities require you to take an entrance exam, while some will take into consideration national or standard exams.
Since forestry will involve relevant science courses, applicants may be considered based on performance in previous science classes undertaken by the applicant. A number of universities also take into consideration advanced placement exams, while some consider transfer credits for post-secondary students or applicants.
An applicant’s intent may also be investigated, as some schools require a letter of intent or motivation letter. Because of this, a keen interest in the outdoors, forests or the environment in general may be taken into consideration.
For a complete list of requirements, you are advised to check out or contact the institution you are interested in applying to.
In undertaking a degree program in forestry, you should expect to have lectures, laboratory classes and fieldwork. Classes to be taken can include biology, biodiversity, sustainability, environmental management and other relevant courses. Assessment may be in the form of examinations, practical work and field exercises.
In the latter years of a program, students may be required to undergo their own research and thesis on a topic of their choice, usually in line with their intended specializations.
Specializations are available in a number of institutions. This may be a required part of the degree program for forestry or it may be optional, depending on the institution. Below is a short list of common specializations offered by universities:
The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates. For example, in the United States, The Society of American Foresters (SAF) can accredit educational curricula. Please check with the institution you are interested in for their accreditation details.
Some states and countries also require licensing or registration for foresters. Requirements vary per state. You can check with the official governing body of the country or state wherein you would like to practice as a forester.
An undergraduate degree in forestry can typically take around four years of full-time study. The exact period of time would depend on the university of your choice and the country wherein it is located. It may also depend on the kind of specialization you intend to take.
For those interested in eventually pursuing a master’s degree or a doctorate in forestry, there are a number of programs available, some with standalone focus on forestry, while some in conjunction with environmental studies and management.
Graduates of forestry degree programs have opportunities in research and environmental management. Some career paths and positions that forestry graduates have taken include conservation officer, natural resource manager, forest ranger, forestry science and conservation scientist. A degree in forestry will also be useful in related fields such as environmental policy, sustainable management, agriculture, timber processing, and field ecology. With these opportunities, graduates can be in the laboratory, out in the forest or in an office.
During the process of obtaining a degree in forestry, students are also able to acquire numerous transferrable skills, such as research ability, laboratory skills, logical thinking, and knowledge on environmental and sustainability issues.
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