Foresters manage, use, and help protect forests and other natural resources.
Foresters typically work for:
- Private timber companies
- State and federal governments
Foresters who work in private companies acquire timber from private landowners. They contact local forest owners to ask permission to inventory their timber. They check the type, amount, and location of all standing timber on the property. This process is called timber cruising. Foresters appraise the value of the timber, negotiate a price, and draw up a contract. After the purchase, they subcontract with loggers to harvest the trees. They also help layout the road loggers will use. During the logging, foresters stay in close contact with both the workers and the landowner. They must be sure that the work meets the landowner's requirements and all government regulations.
Foresters who work for state and federal governments manage public forests and parks. Managing public forests involves a number of possible duties. For example, foresters may plan and carry out conservation programs. They may plan ways to control floods or fires. They may also develop plans for harvesting timber. Often, they monitor cleared lands to make sure they are reclaimed to forests or another suitable use. Foresters may also fight forest fires or direct other workers to fight them. They may conduct education programs for the public on forest care and conservation. Foresters may also design roads, buildings, fire towers, campgrounds, or recreation sites.
Regardless if they work for private companies or the government, foresters consider the impact proposed projects and programs might have on the environment. They decide how best to conserve wildlife habitats, creek beds, water quality, and soil stability. They also decide how best to comply with regulations.
Foresters also supervise the planting and growing of new trees. This process is called regeneration. They choose and prepare the site. They use various methods, such as controlled burning, to clear weeds, brush, and logging debris. They advise workers on the type, number, and placement of trees to be planted. Foresters monitor the seedlings. They watch for healthy growth and decide the best time to harvest.
All foresters use a variety of tools to perform their jobs. They use meters and gauges to measure timber. They use special types of photos taken from airplanes or satellites to map large forest areas. They use computers in the office and in the field to store and analyze the data required to manage forests and natural resources. From this data, foresters prepare reports.