Friday, May 2, 2014

What Do Foresters Do?

The timber industry in the United States is a vast industry with dozens of different jobs dependent on the health and sustainability of our forests. Foresters (also known as conservation scientists) are tasked with the job of making sure this happens.

You might think that many conservation scientists are there to create restrictions on loggers and make their lives just a little bit more difficult. While it's true that the majority of forestry jobs are through the public sector, many foresters are also employed or contracted by companies within the forest product industry. They might be hired to ensure that they are using sustainable practices, to accurately measure the amount of timber within a particular amount of land, and even to purchase timber for the company.

So let's take a deeper look into what these professionals actually do and how it relates to the timber industry.

Conservation & Resource Management

Due to the lifespan of trees, the timber industry operates on a lengthy production cycle that can last 10 years or more. Foresters have to be able to think far into the future and determine the best ways to conserve and manage timber throughout the cycle. Conservation & resource management foresters may have to predict and protect against anything from potential pest threats to soil contamination to erosion. It's also necessary to determine how much of a particular forest can be harvested without harming the remaining ecosystem.

Procurement Foresters

Some companies will hire foresters to negotiate the purchase of timber from private forests. Many times private landowners are willing to sell the timber that has grown on their land, or they may be growing forests specifically for that purpose. A forester is tasked with determining how much the timber on the land is worth to the company and then creating a strategy to remove the timber according to the terms of the contract they negotiate.

Restoration Planners

Similar to conservation and resource management foresters, restoration managers research ways to improve sustainability and conservation. They may develop better harvesting procedures and strategies, tree improvement techniques, and ways to protect forests from disease, wildfire, and pests. Restoration planners might also monitor and prepare cleared forests for regeneration so the land can be used again.

In addition to these specialties, foresters also have to be knowledgeable in government regulations regarding forests, even if they are on private land. There are ethical considerations to make as well, particularly in regards to habitat protection. In fact, many foresters get into their line of work because they enjoy working to preserve nature and make sure we are using sustainable practices.

If you're a forester or are thinking about becoming one, drop us a comment and let us know about your experiences!

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