What do foresters do?
There is a wide variety of specialisations available in the forestry
profession. Some foresters are concerned with planning of field
operations to minimise soil erosion, to conserve water catchment values,
to provide suitable habitats for native fauna, to ensure that rare and
endangered plants or animals are protected and to maintain scenic
landscape values, a whole of landscape approach to land management is
being undertaken in Australia, which means that foresters interact with
farmers, water supply, engineers and soil conservation officers to
achieve better coordinated and more sustainable systems of land
Protection of forests from fire is major function of foresters in
Australia. Foresters plan and implement strategies for fire prevention,
detection and suppression. They devise and maintain the management
techniques in the forest to meet objectives of fauna habitat management
or regeneration of new forests. They provide equipment for fire fighting
and radio communication, and train and direct staff.
Other foresters are involved in tending forests.
This is called
silviculture, which means the establishment or regeneration of forests
and their subsequent thinning, pruning or wed control. Silviculture also
includes production of seed for new forests, often using sophisticated
genetic improvement techniques, the establishment and management of tree
nurseries. Tending forests may require the application of fertiliser,
sometimes from the air, and the manipulation of forest composition by
the use of fire or carefully controlled tree harvesting. A vast amount
of information on tree growth and growth rates under different cultural
conditions is needed for making silvicultural decisions.
The business of forest management requires foresters to undertake
inventories of growing stock in forests, to forecast future growth of a
variety of forest products, to estimate community demand for forest
products, and to identify optimum strategies for forest management. The
latter requires the use of advanced modelling techniques and computer
based decision tools.
Foresters make use of computer based land
information systems and geographic information systems for analysing the
outcomes of various options for management.
Some foresters are engaged in organising and controlling the harvest
of timber from forests for the production of sawn timber for house
construction, furniture manufacture, plywood, particleboard, poles,
posts, fuel wood and for paper pulp. Other forest products are tannin
bark, gums, resins, essential oils, honey and forage for livestock.
For timber harvesting, areas to be felled or thinned are identified
and carefully planned to meet the requirements for environmental
protection, soil and water conservation, fire protection, regeneration
of the forest if required, market requirements and the economics of
harvesting equipment. Harvesting involves a considerable amount of
forest engineering skill to locate and construct roads, bridges and
Foresters may be involved in the processing, utilisation and
marketing of forest products.
They may provide technical expertise to
ensure efficient use of timber, better timber seasoning, development of
new wood adhesives and better methods of preservation of wood against
rot and termites.
All forest operations are supported by scientific research, and there
is a very wide variety of research undertaken by forest managing
agencies or companies, by CSIRO, by cooperative research centres and by
universities. Often, research activities are associated with extension
work, taking the results of research to users, either in government
agencies or in the agricultural community, in the case of agroforestry.