How to become a Forester

Foresters study, establish, manage and harvest forests to ensure there is a continuing supply of timber and associated forest products. They also maintain forests to meet community recreational needs.

Personal requirements of a Forester

  • Aptitude for science
  • Able to take initiative
  • Interested in environmental issues
  • Good communication skills
  • Enjoy outdoor activities

Education & Training for a Forester

To become a forester you usually have to complete a degree in forest sciences or forest science and management. Alternatively, you can complete a bachelor degree in a relevant area such as environments or environmental science, followed by a postgraduate qualification in forestry or forest science. To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology and earth and environmental science are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Forester

Foresters may perform the following tasks:

  • manage forest resources by protecting and regenerating forests and promoting effective growth
  • establish plantations of native and introduced timber species
  • plan and implement fire prevention, detection and suppression systems
  • observe the effects of environmental factors on the growth and health of plants
  • measure and record tree volume and growth, as well as changes in the forest’s timber and other resources
  • estimate the sustainable supply of timber and associated forest products
  • plan and implement the growing and harvesting of native and introduced plantation forests
  • protect wildlife habitats and forest streams
  • develop recreational facilities and control their use
  • undertake landscape management, which may involve manual and satellite mapping, aerial photo interpretation and field measurements
  • advise governments, industry and landholders on forestry, and plan and conduct educational programs on the care and value of trees and forests
  • conduct research on various aspects of forestry
  • supervise and train technical, clerical and field staff and coordinate their work.

Working conditions for a Forester

Foresters work both indoors and outdoors, often in isolated bush areas.

Employment Opportunities for a Forester

Foresters are employed by state and territory government agencies concerned with public land, state forests, soil conservation, national parks and wildlife. They are also employed by local government agencies and regional authorities in areas such as fire protection and urban forestry. There are opportunities with pulp and paper companies and other large firms in forestry related industries. Foresters may work as field management officers, scientific officers, resource planners, fire prevention officers, conservation officers, timber and harvesting managers, reafforestation (replanting) officers and production managers. Forestry graduates usually enter the occupation as project foresters and gain experience by rotating through positions during the early years of employment. Employment in research and advisory positions, such as with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), requires a higher degree in plant and/or soil sciences. Employment opportunities depend on government strategies for the conservation and development of forest resources, the number and size of native forests and plantations, and demand for timber products.

Additional Information
Most degrees in forestry are recognised by the Institute of Foresters of Australia (IFA). The institute offers student, associate and voting membership. Contact IFA for further information. Universities recommend that students seek employment in the forestry industry during summer vacations. Field or practical experience is highly regarded when seeking full-time employment.
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