Forestry is an applied science that involves conserving and managing forest ecosystems within increasingly complex social environments. It combines forest ecosystem sciences, management sciences, and communications skills for managing forest resources to meet society’s ever-increasing needs for desired products, services, and forest conditions.
A forester is a professional who must understand the many different aspects of managing natural and human elements of forest systems. Forestry requires a broad education. Biological and physical sciences deal with the complex interactions of forest ecosystems. Social sciences provide understanding of how humans value forest conditions and forest-based products and services. Management sciences help foresters to match human needs and desires with the sustainable capabilities of forests. A forestry student faces a challenging and stimulating education.
The University of Maine has the longest, continuously accredited professional forestry program in the United States. We celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the program in 2003. Forestry, Forest Operations Science and the Master of Forestry program are the only programs in Maine that are accredited by the Society of American Foresters as first degrees in professional forestry. The goal of the Bachelor of Science degree program at the University of Maine is to combine instruction in 1) the basic sciences and liberal arts that are fundamental to a college education, 2) practical forestry skills that will allow a graduate to compete for entry-level positions, and 3) fundamentals of applied forest resources and management sciences on which graduates can build throughout their careers.
The BS in Forestry curriculum requires completion of 128 credits of coursework. In addition to the University’s general education requirements in science, human values, communications, mathematics, and ethics, the curriculum includes forest-oriented courses in biology, soil science, measurements, mapping, inventory, protection, ecology, tree culture, economics, policy, and administration. These are combined into an integrated approach to the management of forests for desired, sustainable conditions that respond to society’s demands for a healthy forest environment, wood-based products, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and water resources.
The Forestry program at the University of Maine retains a strong field orientation. Training in a forest setting begins with the first semester. The University’s 1,270-acre Dwight B. DeMeritt Forest is adjacent to the campus. Together with the nearby Penobscot Experimental Forest, this property is part of nearly 15,000 acres of forestland, owned by the University, that provide living laboratories for forestry education and research. Large areas of public and private, industrial, and non-industrial forestland near the University provide additional opportunities. Students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the numerous opportunities for summer employment with public and private land-management organizations.
Students in the Forestry program have an opportunity to study, interact, and often work with the large number of graduate students from around the world who have been attracted to forest-related studies at the University of Maine. The forestry faculty members are involved in active research programs, as well as teaching. Students learn from teachers who, themselves, continually explore and extend the latest knowledge in their areas of forest science. Faculty members are assigned between 10 and 15 undergraduate students for academic advising.
The Forestry program provides a very broad education that allows foresters to seek employment in a wide range of positions, but most work with some aspect of forest resources management. Federal agencies, such as the United States Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service employ many foresters. State natural resources agencies hire foresters to manage state forestlands and to provide advice to owners of small woodland properties. Non-governmental conservation organizations employ foresters to further the interests of their programs. In Maine, organizations that manage large private land holdings, are a major employer of foresters. An increasing number of forestry graduates become independent consultants, serving mostly non-industrial private forestland owners such as the thousands who own more than half of Maine’s timberland.
The B.S. in Forestry program is accredited by the Society of American Foresters. The Society is recognized by the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation as the specialized accrediting body for forestry in the United States.
This program is part of the School of Forest Resources which has the largest scholarship endowment fund on campus. These funds are available to help support academic studies in Forest Resources.