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Who Are Foresters and What Do They Do?

By Carol

Without forests, our planet Earth would have been definitely an uninhabitable place. Instead of humans, aliens would have been the occupants on the earth. Thanks to forests, that civilized and wildlife co-exist. But to ensure continuity of survival for both the species, it is vital that we protect the green cover of our planet. After all, they are the backbone of development and sound ecological system.

Forests ensure there is sufficient water storage for the earthlings. They also assist in reducing the effects of global warming and suppressing carbon emissions to maintain the percentage of an ozone layer in the Earth's stratosphere. In addition to this, they act as our planet's filter system by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing vital oxygen into the atmosphere. However, due to rapid industrialization and deforestation, the green cover has significantly decreased on this planet. As a result, foresters have been largely involved in taking initiatives that assist in reversing land degradation, reducing soil erosion, and maintaining stream salinity.

Who are Foresters?

Foresters manage publicly or privately-owned wild lands either for economic, recreational or conservation purposes. These individuals are involved in diverse activities ranging from supervising ecological restoration to timber harvesting and managing daily activities of protected areas.

Where do they work?

Foresters work with owners of private land, federal government, or local forest management agencies. They also work for private organizations in the departments related to logging, timber, paper, and wood or pulp industry. Many of them are associated with responsibilities related to protection and improvement of forest land. Some foresters take up career as a professor in graduate schools or colleges, while some conduct research on a particular topic, or become a consultant. Depending on interests, this field has a variety of options to offer if you have a genuine interest towards the environment.

With government-taking initiatives like converting extensive stretches of land into national parks to preserve the forest cover and its rich biodiversity, these workers are usually employed by the federal government in the south western part of U.S., whereas in the eastern regions, they are more likely to work with the private land owners.

What does a Forester do?

The aim of foresters is to manage forests, parks or other natural resources, and to protect the animal/bird species by preserving their natural habitat. In addition to this, they also handle tasks related to the maintenance of water quality, stability of soil, and implementation of methods as per the environmental regulations set by the state. Depending on their specialization, these professionals work either for timber foresting or conservation foresting. While timber deals with the harvesting and sale of the wood, conservation is concerned with protection of the flora and fauna in the specific region.

With government now taking conscious efforts to preserve and develop the natural plantation, there is an increasing demand for these professionals. They are responsible for planning and implementing steps for the maintenance of forested ecosystems by designing and monitoring reforestation activities. Along with planting new seeds and growing them, the foresters are also taking appropriate initiatives to monitor the healthy growth of existing and new plants to ensure their good life span. These individuals conduct research to determine the cause of deforestation, measures to overcome depleting plantation cover, and assist in harvesting timber for achieving maximum profits in a business.

Timber Foresters

In timber foresting, these officers supervise the timber harvests by procuring fiber from the trees that is suitable for industrial consumption. They measure, grade, and assess the quality of the wood before approving it for harvesting. This involves approving the Timber Harvest Plan (THP), marking of the trees for cutting, and keeping a count of the total yield from the forest to determine the expected business. The foresters are also accountable for overseeing overall health of the trees, and ensuring that they remain free from insect contamination or diseases.

Conservation Foresters

Preserving the forest resources to ensure sustainable living for future generations is a primary duty of a forester. In conservation foresting, these professionals have to pay more attention towards the protection of wildlife in designated areas as well as ensure proper growth of the trees. For the improvement of forest lands, and prevention of soil erosion, they undertake plantation of new seeds, nurture them, and order the removal of diseased or damaged plants that are blocking the growth of other trees in their surroundings. It involves removing trees affected by pests, diseases, and due to man-made, or natural forest fires.

The foresters plan and lay out stringent measures to prevent the protected area from being damaged due to excess human intervention, heavy machinery, or wildlife poachers. They comply with federal laws to prepare rules that limit external interference, and protect wild life. These professionals often get into the shoes of various profiles as per the demand of the situation. They can function as a Public Information Officer to prepare reports on the assigned territory, work as an Aerial Detection Observer, or even fill in as a Wildlife Fire Fighter.

What tools they use?

As it's mostly an outdoor job that involves traveling to remote places for collecting information or assessing the condition of forests, you must have a genuine interest to travel for work. Furthermore, a good physique, strength to handle heavy tools, willingness to work in extreme zones, and technical expertise are essential for this profile. Foresters who study tree growth, timber quality, and mark the removal of dead trees have to work on ground, and even handle the associated tools. They work with various tools such as clinometers to measure the tree height, tapes for calculating the circumference and bark gauges, increment borers for determining the tree growth.

On the other side, foresters who carry out aerial surveys use different equipment during their regular inspection rounds. They use remote sensing equipment to capture astounding photographs of the terrain by doing aerial photography using an airplane or a helicopter. These professionals need to have a sound knowledge of camera, satellite imagery, and geographic information system (GIS) technology. With GIS, it becomes easier to map forest zones and also understand the trends for which the land is being used. The foresters extensively rely on Global Positioning System (GPS), computers, mobiles, and advanced technologies to study these maps, and implement proper steps for conservation.

Procurement foresters

These individuals are responsible for approving timber quality for sales. They study the effects of global climate change on the environment and even manage tasks related to plant diseases, pests, wildlife, and forest fires. As the major concern of governments across the world is suppressing the rising incidences of wildfires and preserving the green cover on the planet, there is no dearth of opportunities in this field. With increasing need of protecting flora and fauna to promote sustainable living of all species, this field is rapidly coming into limelight and gaining major attention in the world.


If you love nature, and are curious to explore new things, working in a forestry department comes with an ample number of opportunities. As you get a chance to travel to remote places and interact with different people, it is one of the careers that do not have a normal workplace constraint. For individuals who are toying with an idea of making the world a better place to live, becoming a forester could be an excellent choice.

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