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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Forestry Jobs As Green As Green Jobs Get

Reforestation, the process by which natural areas are transformed back into the forested areas they once were, is a complex process. To land a forestry job requires a knowledgeable personality who is able to work in a range of environments and with a variety of people. In a nutshell, a forester typically will be responsible for annual forest management programs. A green job if ever there was one!

The following example illustrates a common day in the life of a forester.

Jane is a forester with an international timber company. This year, her company successfully bid for several new contracts, which allowed for the hiring of a forestry technician to help her with all the additional responsibilities those contracts placed on Jane's shoulders.

On this day, Jane meets her technician at a timber stand that has been owned by their company for over thirty years. It was harvested 25 years ago and replanted with the exact same species for the purpose of harvesting again. Today, they hike about a quarter mile off the road to a location marked by her GPS, where they meet a team of other company professionals to discuss an update on the stand's health. As the leader of the team, Jane is responsible for providing direction to the other team members, who span a wide range of disciplines. This specific meeting is to determine if the damage afflicted by the Asian Beetle has been significant enough to derail harvest plans scheduled for this fall. A botanist has a report on the impact on the area's vegetation, while the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) specialist provides satellite data on the amount of timber that blew down during the latest windstorm.

After the meeting ends, Jane and her technician hop in their trucks and drive back to their office, about 50 miles away. Checking her voicemail, Jane listens to one from the company forest planner, who is responsible for managing the company's relationship with several government agencies. The planner would like Jane to speak with a contractor responsible for planting seedlings on another plot of land, as the government inspector has concerns over the soil conditions present.

As soon as Jane gets back to the office, she is whisked into an emergency meeting called by the fire protection officer. The weather forecast calls for a thunderstorm to move into the northern area of their holdings. The company's fire weather forecaster predicts the thunderstorm will bring little of the much-needed rain, but supply plenty of lightning activity, which poses a high risk of fire. As a precaution, the fire protection officer wants to bring in a crew of a dozen forest firefighters in case the prediction comes true. Jane authorizes the deployment of supplies necessary to support the crew for a week to a location close to where the weather is predicted to have the biggest impact on their land.

During lunch, Jane finalizes several reports on different projects she is working on. One includes an update on the Asian Beetle impact she reviewed this morning. The report is to the company resource analyst and inventory specialist and details Jane's professional opinion on how much of the forest will be unusable in the planned harvest. The resource analyst and inventory specialist will use her data to develop the actual value of that tract of land and update the cost accounting for the company's records.

Once the reports are sent off, Jane packs up her things early. Today, she has to drive two hours for a forestry association conference in the big city. As a member of the professional association, it is important she attend these conferences to keep abreast of the new technology and practices circulating in the industry. Jane hopes to find one item she can apply to her daily job.

But the conference also gives her an opportunity to meet several college friends. As a graduate of the nearby university forestry program, she and her classmates have pursued different career options. One good friend took a higher paying job as a research scientist with a Fortune 500 paper company, while another took a job as an urban forester.

Another classmate, who had held a similar forester role with a different company, recently took a forestry job as a professor at the university sponsoring the conference.

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