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The Field :: Career Opportunities :: The Major
The Minor :: Curriculum

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The Field

The field of forestry is concerned with all aspects of the conservation and management of the forest vegetation that covers 40 percent of the earth's land surface. This is a challenging task, because forests provide benefits to society in two very different ways. Forest ecosystems are vital in providing wildlife habitat, protecting watersheds, providing wilderness and other forms of outdoor recreation opportunities, maintaining biodiversity of both plants and animals, and even controlling global climate. Forests also provide the raw materials for lumber, paper, and fuelwood, which are favored over many alternative materials because they are renewable resources. In fact, every year Americans use more wood by weight than all plastics, metals, and Portland cement combined. The challenge of forestry, then, is to plan for the harvest and regeneration of trees to provide these products, while still maintaining the environmental benefits that forest ecosystems provide. Trees take on special importance in urban areas, were their greatest value is for aesthetics, climate modification, and habitat for urban wildlife. Urban foresters and arborists manage trees in cities and suburbs, the fastest growing communities in the country.  Every day in Massachusetts hundreds of acres of land are converted into residential and commercial property.  Arborists and urban foresters strive to preserve trees during construction and replace trees that have been damaged by construction. Urban and suburban trees provide many benefits, from cleaning the air to helping build social networks in a community. They also have aesthetic value, and can increase the value of one's yard. This area of forestry is becoming increasingly important with global climate change.

News from this program: Student surveys rank us second on campus in student satisfaction!
Society of American Foresters' Video – "Foresters: Growing Forests for Our Future"

Career Opportunities

Public agencies:

One-half of the 40,000 professional foresters in the United States work for a government agency, managing publicly owned forest land or conducting research and education programs related to forest management and conservation. Foresters with the federal government are employed by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and other agencies. Most states employ foresters to manage state forest and park systems, as well as to assist private landowners with management of their land. Some cities and counties also have active forest management programs requiring professional foresters, especially for managing watershed and recreation areas. Many public agencies have strong affirmative action programs for women and members of ethnic minority groups.

Forestry consultants:

Many foresters work in small business firms or are self-employed; they specialize in managing land for private landowners, who usually are interested in improving their forests for wildlife habitat, recreation, and landscape aesthetics as well as for income from timber harvesting. Nationally, 58 percent of all forestland is owned by private individuals and families who rely on these consulting services. In Massachusetts, 78 percent of all forestland falls into this ownership type. This kind of forestry employment is widespread in New England.

Urban forestry/Arboriculture:

Many arboriculture and urban forestry majors work for tree care companies;they work outside and use their skills to plant, prune, and remove hazardous trees, as well as manage tree health with environmentally-sensitive strategies. Since urban and suburban trees are long-term assets to a community, proper care is critical to ensure that trees remain healthy. Some of our graduates work for communities as the tree warden, the person responsible for trees on public land like parks and boulevards. Our graduates generally have at least 5 job offers, with starting salaries up to $40,000 per year. There are opportunities all across the country, and this trend shows no signs of slowing. For more information: http://www.umass.edu/stockbridge/arboriculture

Forest industries:

Companies ranging from multinational corporations to modest-sized sawmills employ foresters to manage land primarily for the production of forest products. Jobs of this kind, found throughout the U.S., are concentrated in the southeastern and western parts of the country, and in northern New England.

Peace Corps:

Many graduates gain their first professional experience in forestry as volunteers in the Peace Corps, which has markedly increased the size of its forestry program in recent years.

Allied fields:

Some graduates take advantage of particular skills gained during their studies, and work in such fields as aerial photo interpretation and mapping, environmental quality monitoring for governmental agencies, environmental education, and management of conservation lands and natural areas for non-profit organizations.

The Major

The study of forestry at the University is based upon an understanding of the ecological interactions of trees and other plants, animals, soils, water, and climate. Added to this are professional courses in silviculture, inventory and mapping, economics, resource policy, fire control, wildlife habitat, and related fields, which deal directly with the management of forests. These courses provide extensive field experience, made possible by students' access to the University's two research forests, and to State Forest, Wildlife Management and Quabbin Watershed lands. What distinguishes the program from those at other forestry schools is the emphasis on forest problems unique to the urbanized northeast and specifically to Massachusetts, where forest issues are entwined with those of a large human population. However, the curriculum is sufficiently broad and flexible to allow graduates to find employment throughout the country. In some career paths, a Master's degree is necessary for advancement, but most entry-level positions are open to graduates with a Bachelor's degree. There are two tracks in the major: 1) Forest Conservation and 2) Urban Forestry/Arboriculture. The undergraduate curriculum consists of 1) a set of courses required of all forestry majors, composed of basic science and math courses, professional forestry courses, and General Education and free electives, and 2) the choice of the Forest Conservation or Urban Forestry/Arboriculture Track. The Forest Conservation Track meets the requirements for employment as a forester with federal government agencies and is accredited by the Society of American Foresters. For the Urban Forestry/Arboriculture track, many students first complete the two-year Arboriculture and Park Management Program in the Stockbridge School and then transfer into the Urban Forestry/Arboriculture track for the final two years to complete the Bachelor of Science in Forestry.

Forestry program mission, goals, and objectives
When students graduate from UMass Amherst with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Conservation (Forest Ecology and Conservation concentration), they will be able to:

  • Acquire and analyze data describing the biophysical and social aspects of forests.
  • Make management decisions about forests that integrate relevant ecological, physical, and social information.
  • Appreciate the natural complexity of forest systems, and the interdisciplinary nature of their conservation.
  • Understand the multiple values of forests across the spectrum of   circumstances from urban to rural, developed to wild.
  • Communicate to the public that forests are important resources.
  • Behave professionally and ethically in the management of forests for the benefit of society.

The Minor

A minor in forestry can be earned by completing at least five courses (15 cr) distributed in the general areas of Forest Biology, Forest Resource Measurements and Inventory, Plant Identification, and Forest Management. At least one three-credit course must be taken from each area (except in the case of Plant Identification).


Forestry Conservation Track

Freshman Year
  • NRC 100 Environment and Society
  • MATH 121 Linear Methods and Probability for Business (R2)
  • MATH 104 Algebra, Analytic Geometry and Trigonometry (R1)
  • BIOLOGY 102 Intro. Animal Biology (BS)
  • BIOLOGY 103 Plant Biology (BS)
  • ENGLWRIT 112 College Writing (CW)
  • PLSOILIN 105 Soils
Sophomore Year
  • NRC 297S Intro. to Spatial Information Technologies
  • NRC 212 Forest Botany
  • WFCON 261 Wildlife Conservation
  • CHEM 110 General Chemistry Nonscience Majors (PS)
  • RESEC 211 Intro. Statistics Life Sciences (R2)
  • FOREST 225 Forests and People
  • BIOLOGY 287 Intro. to Ecology
Junior Year
  • FOREST 534 Forest Measurements (EOY odd)
  • FOREST 521 Harvesting (EOY odd)
  • PHYSICS 139 Intro. to Physics (PS)
  • NRC 409 Natural Resources Policy and Administration
  • RESEC 263 Natural Resource Economics (SB)
  • FOREST 492 Verbal Communication Skills
  • NRC 382 Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Mgt.
  • NATRES&E 397A – Junior Year Writing
Senior Year
  • FOREST 526 Silviculture (EOY even)
  • FOREST 540 Forest Resources Mgt.
  • Land/Management/Resource elective*
  • NRC 549 Ecosystem Mgt.
  • ENTOMOL 572 Forest Entomology, Path. (EOY odd)

Total credits=120. Required courses for the Forest Conservation curriculum total 93 credits. This curriculum meets the Society of American Foresters accreditation standards. An additional 9 credits of General Education courses are needed to meet University requirements, besides the Gen. Ed courses required as a part of the Forest Conservation track. Two of these three courses in the AL/AT/HS area need to have the additional Diversity (U and G) designation. *land/management/resource elective: 300-level or higher course in land or management, or broadly oriented towards natural resources, e.g., GEO-SCI 360 Economic Geography, REGIONPL 574 City Planning; FOREST 528 Forest and Wetland Hydrology; W&FCONSV 564 Wildlife Habitat Management; FOREST 332 Urban Forestry; FOREST 515 Forest Fire Management; NRC 597C: Case Studies in Conservation; courses in Sociology, Anthropolgy, Public Policy, GIS, Remote Sensing; at the discretion of the advisor. Note bold/italicised classes are every other year. PLAN ACCORDINGLY.

Urban Forestry/Arboriculture Track

Freshman Year
  • NRC 100 Environment and Society
  • FOREST 191 Seminar in Arboriculture and Park Management or NRC 197A Conservation in the U.S.
  • CMPSCI 105 Computer Literacy
  • LANDCONT 105 Landscape Drafting or LANDCONT 112 Introduction to Landscape Design
  • PLSOILIN 102 Introductory Botany or BIOLOGY 103 Plant Biology
  • CHEM 102 General Chemistry for Nonscience Majors
  • MATH 104 Algebra, Analytic Geometry and Trigonometry
Sophomore Year
  • ECON 103 Introduction to Microeconomics or RES-ECON 102 Introduction to Resource Economics
  • PLSOILIN 105 Soils
  • FOREST 332 Arboriculture
  • NRC 250 Applied Ecology or BIOLOGY 287 Introduction to Ecology
  • NRC 297S Introduction to Spatial Information Technologies or LANDCONT 213 Small Property Design
  • ENVIRDES 335 Plant Materials
  • MICROBIO 104 Horticultural Plant Pathology
  • PLSOILIN 109 Insects of Ornamentals
Junior and Senior Years
  • FOREST 492 Verbal Communication Skills or other public speaking course*
  • NRC 382 Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management or
  • RES-ECON 142 Personnel Management
  • NRC 397 Professional Writing
  • NRC 549 Ecosystem Management or FOREST 540 Forest Resources Management or ENTOMOL 581 Integrated Pest Management
  • PLSOILIN 230 Introductory Turfgrass Management
  • ENVIRDES 574 City Planning or GEO-SCI 362 Land Use and Society
  • FOREST 110 Introduction to Forestry
  • FOREST 310 Urban Forestry
  • FOREST 305 Private Tree Business Plant/Land electives (2)
  • Marketing/Public Relations/Policy elective
  • Personnel Management/Administration elective
  • Management elective
  • Course choice must be approved by advisor.

Contact an Advisor

Forestry Conservation Track:

David B. Kittredge, Jr. Program Director Office: 327 Holdsworth Hall Phone: 413-545-2943 Email: dbk "at" eco.umass.edu

Urban Forestry/Arboriculture Track:

H. Dennis P. Ryan III Program Director Office: 119 Holdsworth; Phone: 413-545-6626 Email: dr "at" eco.umass.edu

You can contact these advisors using the NRC contact form