Forests provide a plethora of invaluable economic, social and environmental benefits and act as Carbon-sinks in the modern world of pollution. With the growing importance and necessity of environmental protection all over the world, the academia sector is now emphasizing on education in the field of natural resources. As a result, courses in Forestry have emerged to be a well-sought after since the recent past.
Forestry is defined as the art, science, and practice of studying, managing, conserving and repairing forests and plantations, and related natural resources. It is a field that includes a broad area of focus such as timber-produce, landscape and community protection, wildlife habitat, fuel-wood, biodiversity management, prevention and protection of forests from negative phenomena like erosion, forest-fires, etc. It also includes Arboriculture, which is the study of individual trees, their management and cultivation. A professional who practises forestry as a career is generally termed as a Forester. There is a wide scope for people skilled in forestry in many of the industrialised nations today, for instance more than a million jobs and about €181 billion of value is added by forestry to the German economy each year. There are also supportive organizations like The Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF), which is the leading professional body for foresters and arboriculturists in the UK.
Types of Forestry
Management of the forest ecosystem is one of the key areas of research under the field of forestry. The field also includes timber-processing, starting from the planting of the tree to the extraction and production of timber.
Scope of the Forestry Sector
The sector usually involves a huge swell of technical and haulage activity on a specific woodland area. Various job-roles ranging from the Site-Manager to chainsaw operators are in great demand for professionals with skills in Forestry.
Forestry in Academia abroad
There is quite a difference between forestry education in India and abroad. In India, forestry education is imparted by agricultural universities and Forest-Research Institutes. In countries like the United States, there are post-secondary courses leading to Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s degree programs accredited by the Society of American Foresters. The Bologna Process and the European Higher Education Area govern training in forestry in many European countries. Canada has accredited B.Sc. programs in forestry which is recognised by the Canadian Institute of Forestry. The International Union of Forest Research Organizations is the sole organization at a world level that seeks to coordinate efforts towards the cause worldwide.
Types of Degrees and Study Programs offered
Some forestry positions do not require a college degree but just the value-added skills in the area. But, many of the present-day careers in forestry do require a professional degree in the subject of minimum 2-years. In the US, Two-year programs offer the foundational courses in Biology, physical sciences and chemistry. Students are also required to have completed their general education in Social Science and Humanities. As for any other field of specialization, forestry also has the Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral or Research Degree programs.
Graduate Certificate in Forestry: Apart from the various online platforms that offer courses in Forestry, certain reputed universities worldwide offer value-added certificate programs in the field of Forestry.
Bachelor’s Level: At the Bachelor’s degree level, apart from ecology, life and physical science, forestry courses may also include management dimensions such as recreation management, ecosystem management and resource management. Some programs offer internship opportunities as well.
Master’s Level: The Master’s level programs are structured to be the predecessor of the Research level programs. Master of Natural Resources and Master of Forestry are professional degrees. Tropical forest ecology, biogeochemistry, aquatic ecology and environmental law are some of the coursework included in this program.
Research: Some of the predominant research areas in the field of forestry are forest ecology, environmental and resource law and policy, Silviculture, environmental management and agroforestry. Certain universities also offer Joint Doctoral Programs, combining two or more specializations like anthropology and environmental biology programs.
Top international universities offering study programs in Forestry
In the United States:
In the United Kingdom:
The Job Outlook
What the employers like about this field of study is the ways in which the employee can contribute his knowledge and skills to the concept of forest and environment conservation, aiding agriculture simultaneously. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, the 2014-2024 employment outlook for forestry careers is not so impressive. Also, as per the reports, the 2014 median annual salary for forestry workers was $27,260, for forestry technicians was $35,260 and for foresters was $57,980. The Degrees in Forestry are mostly taken as foundation degree programs in colleges and there are actually only a few people who go into the full degree of the study. Thus, looking at the perspective of competition level, there is an advantage in this field of career for those going for the higher level programs. There are specialist roles that are offered in the forestry management field every year. Organizations and leading bodies like The Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF), UK provide platforms for professional learning and collaboration in the field of research, news and issues faced by the sector. In order ensure to the continued growth of this dynamic sector, the ICF is working with both industry and higher education institutes to promote forestry and Arboriculture career paths to young people.
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