Planting tree saplings is only one step in the reforestation process. A major role in optimizing reforestation practices is the forester.
They work with landowners, government agencies and businesses to manage, protect, and restore forest resources.
Each forester’s role will be slightly different based on the employer, location and situation, with a range of activities in field work and planning. A forester typically will be responsible for annual forest management programs. This involves reviewing progress in the field, approving worksites, working with other disciplines and assessing contractor performance. Foresters often lead wildfire management activities, such as coordinating wildfire and windstorm suppression or compiling data against wildfire prevention plans.
On the planning side, a forester will prepare, track and control project costs, report results to senior coordinators and prepare annual contractor resource plans.
Beginning foresters earn approximately $30,000 annually to over $70,000 based on position and experience. In 2006, the median annual earning for a forester in the U.S. was $51,190. Most positions are full-time and provide some level of benefits. A forester typically has a bachelor’s degree in forestry, but a similar degree in another natural resource field, will usually be considered, especially if combined with pertinent experience. Having an applicable master’s degree will increase the beginning salary range.
A forester’s wide range of activities requires a number of qualifications. Any organization will look for excellent technical forestry skills to start, such as timber marking and sale. Experience with forest resource management theories, principles and practices is a huge benefit, as is GPS, GIS and mapping technologies knowledge.
The ability to operate and maintain forestry equipment will be required as well.
Foresters usually are required to have certain certifications, based on their location. Work in Canada may require the forester to have a Registered Professional Forestry Practitioner designation, which is attainable through various educational institutions. Many locations in the United States require foresters to have an Incident Qualifications Card at the National Wildfire Coordinating Group qualifications level of Firefighter Type 2 or above. A working knowledge of local, state, province or federal forest management legislation will be critical as well.
Certain personal characteristics are required for forester positions as well. Many work locations require a person to enjoy working outdoors and be physically fit to work in rough terrain and weather conditions. A forester will also work with a wide range of personnel, even managing community relationships. Therefore, excellent communication and leadership skills are needed. A forester must have the ability to manage projects and build consensus, yet work independently to meet deadlines.