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Forestry technicians/technologists work closely with other forestry professionals in managing, conserving, and harvesting forests. A large component of a forestry technician/technologist’s job is collecting data to inform the decision-making process, as well as compliance monitoring. Forestry technicians/technologists play a key role in the management of Canada’s forest resources, contributing to the balance of sustainability and demand for wood products.
At a glanceImagine that it's a hot, dry summer day, the sun beating down on the scarred land you're standing on. You've come to this site to evaluate the blackened trees, victims of last summer's massive forest fire that burned more than 2000 hectares of boreal forest. You are a forestry technician and you work as part of a team that monitors forest regrowth following blazes such as this one. You are looking for regeneration among the charred remains, a sign that plant life is recovering. Given that fire is a natural process in the boreal forest, in most cases your team will not actively treat this burn by reseeding or replanting saplings, but rather let nature take its course. But before that decision is made, you need to know that the area will recover on its own. As a forestry technician, you function as the team's eyes and ears, gathering data that will be used to make forest management decisions. As the team's eyes, you first photograph the area as a qualitative measure of recovery. These photos can be compared to photos taken right after the fire swept through to demonstrate the amount of regeneration in the area over the last 12 months. Once this is complete, you will gather quantitative evidence, for example soil samples. You will take several soil cores that will be analyzed in the lab for indicators such as organic content and evidence of germination. These cores will also measure how deeply into the ground the fire burned. In addition to soil samples, you will examine the new green growth, recording the colonizing species and looking for new shoots or runners from tree roots that survived the fire. You will record all this data and bring it to your team members, who will analyze the different indicators of growth and revival and decide if the area needs their assistance for recovery.
Job dutiesDuties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a forestry technician:
- Assist with reforestation efforts, including working in nurseries, preparing sites, seeding, planting, controlling weeds, and pruning.
- Assess sites for reclamation and rehabilitation work.
- Carry out and supervise seed harvesting and cultivation of young trees.
- Take samples and forest measurements, including species, height, diameter, age, and quality.
- Manage, coordinate, and assist with forest fire-fighting efforts or controlled burns.
- Enforce fire protection regulations to protect forest zones. Survey, measure, and map forest areas and access roads.
- Assess the new growth of areas previously logged.
- Supervise the use of herbicides and insecticides to implement pest, weed, and disease control.
- Monitor compliance with regulations governing forest operations and provincial and Crown land management.
- Inspect sites for environmental field reports to assess new areas for oil and gas activity.
Work environmentForestry technicians work in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to: In the field:
- Taking samples and measuring forest characteristics
- Working in remote locations in all weather conditions, including from small aircraft and in potentially dangerous situations, such as forest fires Inspecting land and forest activities
- Analyzing data on the computer, including database management
- Working with other professionals to contribute information to long-term management plans and reporting procedures
- Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, government departments, and the public
- Processing specimens and samples
Where to workThere are a number of places forestry technicians/technologists can find employment. They include:
- Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments
- Conservation authorities
- Logging companies
- Oil, mining, and power companies
- Forestry and environmental consulting firms
- Land service companies
Education & requirementsIn most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as a forestry technician is a technical diploma. The following post secondary programs are most applicable to a career in this field:
- Natural resource management
- Renewable resource management
- Physical education
- Computer sciences