Silviculture is a term to define the understanding of trees and how their growth and health is impacted by environmental conditions or human impact.
The goal of silviculture is to maximize forest use by private and public entities without leading to its degradation.
While treeplanting is certainly part of the operations most companies in the silviculture business provide, it is only one step in the process. Many aspects of reforestation and forest management, such as stand thinning and fire control, fall into the silviculture arena. One role of significant importance is usually referred to as to as the silviculture technician or surveyor, depending on their location. They can be full-time or seasonal, with annual salaries ranging from $30,000 to $50,000.
One responsibility for the technician is to validate a proper inventory of the different species represented in a forested area. Having an understanding of the amount and condition of the range of tree species in an area is critical to reforestation management. In addition to the trees themselves, the surveyors may become involved in determining the types of insects, plants or wildlife located in their area. Since physically counting each of these factors is not viable, knowledge in statistical methods and computers is vitally important to this role.
Another responsibility is to identify what changes must be performed between the current and desired conditions in a forested area.
Activities include providing optimum timber harvest or wildlife habitat, guarding against insect infestation and disease and ensuring recreation opportunities. A silviculturist must assist with maintaining proper conditions for the current tree stands, planting new areas or harvesting those for timber or other reasons.
The final responsibility is planning future land use. They help ensure a harvested area will be reforested properly to meet the needs of the landowners.
Knowledge in local or federal regulations pertaining to proper reforestation techniques and regulations is a must.
Silviculture technicians or surveyors generally must either hold a forestry degree or be in the midst of completing an accredited program to obtain the degree. However, most hiring entities have different requirements and applicable experience in the forestry arena may be enough to get the job.
Most hiring companies prefer at least one year of performing silviculture surveys. Good technical and computer skills are preferred, as the use of GPS and GIS software are daily requirements in this role. Due to the nature of the work, applicants must be physically fit, with good communication skills.