Introduction to Forestry & Natural Resources

Course Overview

Units at a glance

Thriving forests are an essential part of the health of the planet, which is why there is an entire profession devoted to their health and preservation, forestry. Forests have an important role in the health of the planet. They provide a lot of important resources, ranging from lumber to clean air. Those focusing on forestry can expect to study a lot of biology, with particular attention to the structure of trees. Of course, identifying trees is also an important skill to develop. Trees cannot thrive without the right soil, so those interested in this career will be spending a lot of time examining dirt. Fortunately, both trees and soil have identifying characteristics that you will explore in this unit.

Having a thriving forest is not just about the trees. Every living organism in the area shapes the health of the forest because forests are ecosystems. This means that a change in one species likely impacts another. Wildlife management is also part of effectively managing forests. Forestry also includes silviculture, the maintenance of the forests and all they contain. Often forests serve several purposes at once, so multiuse forests are quite common. Thus those interested in a forestry career need to consider all aspects of how forests are used, by both humans and animals. Without this kind of consideration, ecosystems cannot thrive.

You know that the density of trees determines the difference between a forest and a woodland, but how do you know when the land has the right number of trees? That’s where measuring and monitoring come in. To keep forests healthy, a variety of data must be collected. This includes everything from the number, size, and variety of trees to how the water flows within the forest. There are methods for monitoring and measuring these natural resources, and this kind of attention is particularly important in cases where industries depend on the health of forests, as in the timber industry.

Some threats that forests face come from nature. Because they are natural, these threats play a role in the development of forests. Fires can bring unparalleled destruction or provide the foundation for a new generation of growth. Other elements, such as pests and diseases, also are a threat to thriving ecosystems. In this unit, you’ll learn more about these threats as well as how forestry professionals fight these threats. Proper management can help minimize the damage, but those in forestry will need to monitor these threats as well.

The timber industry is an important part of the American economy, and it takes a variety of experts to keep it thriving.  When economic times are hard, many industries that the timber industry depends on, like construction and furniture, suffer. International trade also impacts the industry. Those working in the timber field need to understand not only how forests thrive, but also how the wood they produce will be used after it is harvested. Getting timber to the markets has gotten much more complex as technological innovations in everything from measuring devices to cutting equipment have become more precise. The advancements have also improved the production side of the industry, making timber processing and product development easier than ever before.

Maps are one of the most useful tools for those in forestry. Given all of the measuring and monitoring involved in the forest industry, keeping track of the land measured is essential, as is finding the exact section of the forest that was
measured previously. Improvements in technology and digital mapping have made tracking changes in the land and forest easier than ever before. In addition, it has never been easier to update information. At the same time, those in forestry still need to know how to perform basic navigation and surveying functions without depending on electronic devices.

Maintaining thriving forests comes with a lot of responsibility. Those in forestry have quite a few standards to keep in mind as they perform their jobs. Professional ethics help determine the appropriate course of action, and government agencies create rules and regulations for forestry to ensure that forests are treated well. In addition, the public, particularly environmentalist groups, hold foresters accountable for the state of the forest. At the same time, forestry professionals work with business owners and those whose property borders forests—these stakeholders also have their own interests. Fortunately, guidelines are in place that allow forestry professionals to negotiate these relationships and preserve the forest.

Forestry offers diverse professional opportunities, and for those concerned about the environment, it is a great choice.
This unit will explore some of the career options in forestry and the background required to start them. Resources, such as professional organizations, can help aspiring foresters get their start. Like most industries, forestry needs employees who understand and demonstrate appropriate conduct in the workplace. This means everything from working effectively in groups to sticking to a budget. Safety is also especially important in forestry—a good employee always follows safety procedures. Understanding the expectations is the first step in starting your forestry career.

Course Highlights

Explore the importance of forests to the world we live in.
Learn how professionals fight forest fires and why they sometimes use controlled fires to restore the forest.
Investigate how trees are turned into wood products.
Consider how forests are used and how they can best be conserved and managed for all uses.

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