A FEC student inspects a white ash tree while setting up research plots to monitor Emerald Ash Borer

Forests have never been more important! They are a natural solution to climate change and also provide many essential public benefits, including: clean water, biodiversity, recreational opportunities, wood products, and increased health to a growing population. However, our forests face many threats. We need professionals who understand forest ecosystems and how to conserve them.

The primary goal of the Forest Ecology and Conservation (FEC) concentration within the Natural Resource Conservation major is to produce foresters and natural resource professionals who have the training, skills, and experience necessary to meet the demands of forest conservation in the 21st century and beyond.  The concentration provides students with broad training in forest ecology, sustainable forest management, wildlife habitat, land protection, human dimensions, and natural resource policy and economics. The FEC concentration emphasizes the people and communities that own and tend to New England’s forests. This program concentration is nationally accredited by the Society of American Foresters.



Below are the descriptions of a few of the FEC core courses.

The Silviculture class visiting an old growth forest
  • Forest Tree and Shrub Identification (NRC 212): This course provides identification skills for trees and shrubs of Massachusetts and New England.
  • Forest Ecology and Conservation (NRC 270): Students will gain an understanding in how forests work and their major threats
  • Silviculture and Applied Ecology (NRC 526): Students will gain an understanding in how to apply forest ecology principles in order to steward forests
  • Forest Measurements (NRC 534): This course focuses on technical field skills including: Reading maps, using a GPS unit, measuring various components of the forest including: forest overstory, regeneration, downed woody debris, invasive plant species, and wildlife habitat, and interpreting results to determine current forest conditions, forest and wildlife management options, and forest health.
  • Forest Resources and Management (NRC 540): This is the capstone course for students in the FEC concentration and focuses on the balanced use of forests to meet multiple management objectives. This course includes an applied forest conservation project of the students choosing
  • Land Protection Tools and Techniques (NRC 597): This course focuses strategies to permanently protect forest and agricultural lands from development.

Learn more about the FEC curriculum:  Forest Ecology & Conservation Curriculum Sheet


Alumni Survey 

 In a recent survey, alumni rated the FEC program 4.9 out of 5.0. Here is a little of what our alumni are saying:

“The Forest Ecology and Conservation program is full of dedicated professors and engaged students that are committed to learning about and conserving New England’s forests. The program does a fantastic job preparing their students for life after graduation and provides the necessary foundation for success in all kinds of positions and careers.”

“I am so beyond grateful for my Forest Ecology/NRC professors. Without them, I would not have the skills I possess or be as successful as I am in the field of forestry. They truly conveyed their passion for the field and for passing that on to all of us.”

See the full results of the survey: 2019 FEC Alumni survey results .pdf.


Professional Opportunities

If you want to make a difference for the environment, an FEC degree is an excellent foundation and provides a broad diversity of professional employment options.  The degree also prepares students for graduate school.  Below is a partial list of the employers of our recent graduates:

  • Conservation Easement Stewardship – Berkshire Natural Resource Council
  • Harvard Forest
  • The Trustees of Reservations
  • MA Department of Environmental Conservation
  • MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
  • Mountain Roots Inc.
  • USDA Forest Service
  • NY Department of Environmental Protection
  • City of Worcester Water Supply
  • Hancock Forest Management
  • University of California Davis
  • LandVest Inc.

Domestic Exchange Program

UMass Amherst is an active member of the National Student Exchange, a network of 170 colleges and universities across the U.S.  There are 20 forestry programs participating in the program in a wide array of forest regions. In recent years, a total of seven UMass FEC students have spent a semester or an academic year in the western U.S. to complement and build upon their training at UMass.  Your FEC faculty advisor and the helpful staff of the UMass Student Success office can help you with the application process. Learn more:


https://www.nse.org/exchange/find-campus/ (search “forestry” in program type to see all 20 programs)

“Through the domestic exchange program, I was able to learn about a different region’s forest and the different perspectives people have about them. It also exposed me to opportunities such as networking with employers that I otherwise would not have been available to me. I also enjoyed seeing the differences between publicly owned forestland out West compared to the smaller, privately owned woodlots that are typical of New England. Learning about forestry in the West makes me a more well-rounded forester.”

– UMass FEC Student who studied at the University of Montana

SAF student chapter hosting a Game of Logging training at UMass’ Mount Toby Forest


UMass Student Chapter of the Society of American Foresters (SAF)

The UMass student SAF chapter has provided students with a great opportunity to learn more about forestry and gain valuable leadership experience. Students organize activities, including: Game of Logging training at the UMass forests, field trips to meet local foresters and see different types of forest management, t-shirt sales, and service in support of community firewood efforts. See their Facebook page here: UMass SAF Facebook page


Xi Sigma Pi

UMass has an active chapter of Xi Sigma Pi (XSP), the National Forestry Honors Society. XSP offers the opportunity to recognize outstanding students within the FEC concentration.  It also provides additional leadership development for students.



The FEC concentration offer scholarships to its students on an annual basis. Scholarships range from $200-$1000.


Core Faculty


FEC Advisory Board List

The UMass Forest Ecology and Conservation program is supported by an advisory board that provides guidance to the program. Below is a list of the current members of this the FEC advisory board:

  • Jennifer Fish – MA DCR Service Forestry Program Coordinator
  • Dave Orwig – Forest Ecologist – Harvard Forest
  • Mike Bartlett – Industrial Forester – Hull Forest Products
  • Emily Boss – Land Protection Specialist at Franklin Land Trust
  • Mike Barry – Consulting Forester at Bay State Forestry Services
  • Keith Nislow – USDA Forest Service Team Leader Northern Research Station
  • Michelle Matteo – NSF Forestry Program Manager and Certification Forester & Auditor
  • Julie Richburg – Regional ecologist for The Trustees of Reservations


Learn more about the Forest Ecology and Conservation concentration:

Malcolm Itter
Office: 329 Holdsworth Hall
Phone: (413) 545-1836