DEBATE OF '98- education of the forestry profession

Don Staples dstaples at
Thu Apr 30 09:01:09 EST 1998

JimiFromMI wrote:
> Joseph Zorzin <redoak at> wrote:
> > How good is forestry education? How can it be improved?
> Maybe all ya'll foresters need to put on a better Public Relations campaign.  I
> commented a while back about general perceptions being that Foresters CUT trees
> (very, very bad) while the Soil Conservation Service people PLANT trees (so
> very, very good).  It even has "Conservation" in the name!

SCS does not plant trees in the south, now know as the NRCS Natural
REsources and Conservation Service (or something like that) they have
seen the ways of softening their image as a soils service.  But, in most
cases they are out of the loop in tree planting, left to the state
forest service.
> Why doesn't my annual solicitation for seedlings come from (or even mention)
> the forestry division instead of  from the SCS?

Again, here in Texas all tree planting advert and work come from either
the state forest service or the state forestry association, along with
the consultants that mangage and plant.

> Is "forestry" too narrow minded of a word?  I'm curious.  In many disciplines
> there are a plethora of specialties that one can focus on in their education.
> How many specialties are offered in pursuit of forestry education?  Are there
> wildlife management specialties within forestry, or old growth specialties
> (that sounds like an easy one, just sit around and leave 'em alone).  You get
> the picture.

Numerous specialties, but youll have to get one of the ed types to hit
them all.
> Just about everybody in this newsgroup is aware that the FOREST is a very
> complex relationship of trees, moss, fungi, animals, geology, etc.  Maybe you
> (and the agriculture guys, et al) should just be degreed ECOLOGISTS with a
> specialty in <whatever>.  At least this word gives <warm feelings of green and
> harmony with nature>.

Only because of the eco movement, in every other nation of the world
that has a forestry heritage the word forester connotates a specific
profession, usually ranking above that of the local politicians.  Most
of these same countries have wood cutters (loggers) and other specific
terms for those that are not "professional foresters".  I spent several
years with a forestmeister in Germany, and there is a long stretch of
imagination from a German forestmeister to our own Mass Forestmeister.

SILVICULTURIST:  Another name that just doesn't do it.  People think of
> mines and again, environmental damage.

How about Mensurationist?  Words and titles are a mark of the
profession, if your outside the profession the titles mean little.  Most
every profession has these little professional hooks that identify their
> Once in a blue moon I'll read a newspaper article that puts "foresters" in good
> light or one written by "foresters" spelling out the advantages of actively
> managing your woodlot (more likely, educating new land owners about the tax
> benefits of establishing a basis for your trees, so that when we ***CUT***
> them, we'll make out better with Uncle Sam).  Conservation issues seem to arise
> from other avenues without the term forestry in their bio.

Conservation issues arise from every quarter, many not associated with
actual conservation practice.  In other words, lots of smoke, little
fire.  Foresters are concerned about growing, cutting is part of that
growing.  Sort of like the views of life, death is a part of it,
> Am I on to something here?  Anybody have a better term than "forester"?  Should
> forestry even be a degree on its own merits?  Should it only come after some
> ECO degree as a master's program?

Forester is a classic term with well defined fields within the
practice.  How about Engineering?  Each has a defining element (civil,
electrical, nuclear, etc) and if you ask a forester, heill tell you what
his is in.  Mine is general.  I took geology, soils, silviculture,
dendrology, products, forest pathology, wildlife management, entomology,
chemestry, physics, more math than I needed, and all the prereq stuff as
well.  When I received my degree (eons ago) foresters were required to
have the same number of hours as most engineers.  Don't know what it is
> At a minimum, the general public needs more material about "forestry" success
> stories -- the pretty picture at the "end" of a REGENERATION (now that's a good
> word) compared to a highgrading or no management in a similar stand.

It's out there.  But usually not in the cities.  When you cannot sell a
landowner the benefits of long term management, how are you going to
sell a non-landowner the benefits of a profession?
> There is a lot of talk about wildlife species, understory vegetation such as
> mushrooms, oxygen generation and the mere escape from the city in these
> forestry newsgroups.  How much are these topics covered in the formal forestry
> education process?

Again, dont know current level.  But all (except the mushroom, not an
understroy vegetation, an underground interest to some, but not one we
have concentrated on) were addressed in my college days eons ago. 
Recreation was one of the subjects for the 'escape' from the city.

Forestry is rural, city folks have no concept of it, and only think
about Smokey Bear when they do think, of it that is.  Since the bulk of
the population is now urban, where does that leave us?  I suspect the
bulk of the folks think of game wardens as cops, and forget the game
biologists part of them.  Your concept of the SCS is along that line,
they have a very specific job description, some are foresters, soil
scientists, engineers, plant specialists, etc, yet you think of them as
tree planters.

It is image, and that image is distorted by where you have been, where
you are going, and the effort in determining the need for the
profession.  Success stories are with land owners that succeed with
assistance, and with land owners that do their own with "home study",
the first group has the greatest number of stories.

And in the long run, look at what we have in the way of forests today,
not in an Oregon microcosm, but across the US.  The forests east of the
Rockies is a product of us lowly foresters, and, I suspect, what happens
in the areas west of the Rockies will ultimately be a product of our
> Regards.

Don Staples
UIN 4653335

My Ego Stroke:

More information about the Ag-forst mailing list