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What Does a Forestry Technician Do?

A forestry technician plays a crucial role in managing, improving, and protecting forests. They collect data, assist in the prevention and control of forest fires, and help maintain forest health. They're the unsung heroes of our environment. But how do they manage such a vast responsibility?
B. Miller
B. Miller

A forestry technician is an individual who works with foresters as well as other land managers, often in conjunction with private companies or state/federal organizations. Typically, a forestry technician is an entry-level position; these people may have a two-year degree in forest science or technology, whereas a professional forester will typically have a four-year bachelor's degree or even a master's. The job of a technician can vary depending on where he or she works, and for what type of company, but it typically involves analyzing forests, marking trees for cutting, and performing assessments on the timber value of certain areas, related to the board-feet each sale could yield.

It is rare that a forestry technician would determine independently what trees to cut in a managed forest. Typically, these decisions are made with the assistance of a professional forester based on the desires of the landowner or the property manager. For instance, some forests are managed for scenic or conservation value, while others are managed solely for lumber. Each of these factors will determine the amount and type of trees that will be cut, and requires a great deal of specialized knowledge. The forestry technician may then mark each tree to be cut with paint; typically, technicians and foresters do not do much cutting themselves, as this is the job of the logger.

Felled trees.
Felled trees.

Another frequent job of a forestry technician, particularly for conservation groups or state/national environmental organizations, is research. This person will collect data on things such as incidence of pests or disease in certain tree stands, wildlife changes, or growth patterns of trees. This data is then used by others to determine how best to manage the forest, generally to meet certain conservation goals for forest regeneration. Sometimes an aspect of this research is fire management, as controlled fires are now often used as a method of managing forests in a more natural way.

Forestry involves managing and developing forests.
Forestry involves managing and developing forests.

Forest regeneration, or reforestation, may be yet another task of the forestry technician. This may involve planting specific trees in particular areas where they are most likely to succeed and enjoy beneficial, symbiotic relationships with other tree species. Again, most of these tasks are planned and completed with forestry professionals, but the technician takes on an important aspect of this work. Some forestry technicians will also work to plan and build roads or hiking trails for various purposes. Anyone entering this career should expect to spend most of his or her time outdoors, often independently.

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    • Felled trees.
      By: Kacpura
      Felled trees.
    • Forestry involves managing and developing forests.
      By: Lars Johansson
      Forestry involves managing and developing forests.
    • Forestry technicians often participate in reforestation, or planting trees.
      Forestry technicians often participate in reforestation, or planting trees.
    • A forestry technician might maintain hiking trails.
      By: Mark Rasmussen
      A forestry technician might maintain hiking trails.