Careers in Urban Forestry

Although the focus of reforestation activities mainly lies in vast woodland areas around the continent, there are other areas in need of sound reforestation practices as well.

Most people live in or near cities and want their home areas to look a bit like the woods they often visit.

Therefore, there is a need for urban foresters. Common titles include city forester, urban forester, urban forestry specialist or utility arborist. Be sure to see the tree surgeon jobs description in our Unique Jobs section, too. Regardless of the title, the functions center on maintaining the quality of urban woodlands for aesthetic and environmental reasons. Not only do the city trees appeal to its residents, they can help reduce energy costs, provide wildlife habitat and increase property values. If this career looks interesting then go through our green collar jobs section as well.

There are many facets to the urban forester role, including responsibility over planting, pruning and harvesting trees on public property within a city’s jurisdiction. Another frequent task is inspection for diseases and insect, along with physical damage that could degrade tree health or cause a safety concern for the general public. The urban forester is also responsible for issuing forestry-related permits and verifying contractor work.

A significant amount of the urban forester’s time is also spent on educating the public on how to care for their trees, whether at home or in parks and boulevards and notifying property owners of city code violations.

Full-time positions can expect a beginning salary range between $40,000 and $60,000, based on experience and qualifications, along with benefits.

An urban forester typically is required to have a bachelor’s degree, either in forestry or related disciplines with similar experience considered valuable based on specific situations. The urban forest specialist position may only require an associate degree in a field such as urban forestry, along with related work experience. Many government entities prefer the urban forester be a certified arborist designated by the International Society of Arboriculture.

A complete understanding of the principles behind the planting and care of trees and other vegetation is vital to the urban forester. Knowledge of what grows well in that area and the insects and tree diseases found locally is preferred.

One qualification important to the urban forester not typically found in the general forester is skill in landscape design. Urban residents generally place high value on aesthetics, therefore the forester needs to not only care for the trees, but ensure they look nice as well.

One personal characteristic required for an urban forester is effective individual and group communication skills, as dealing with a wide range of people, from government officials and contractors to the general public, is common. The urban forester must also be able to effectively manage stressful situations that often crop up when dealing with public private property.

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