What Conservation Scientists and Foresters Do
Conservation scientists and foresters study forest and soil quality.
Conservation scientists and foresters manage the land quality of forests, parks, rangelands, and other natural resources.
Conservation scientists and foresters typically do the following:
- Oversee conservation and forestry activities to ensure compliance with government regulations and protection of habitats
- Negotiate terms and conditions for contracts related to forest harvesting or land use
- Establish plans for managing forest lands and resources
- Choose and prepare sites for new trees, using controlled burning, bulldozers, or herbicides to clear land
- Monitor forest-cleared lands and forest regeneration
- Direct and participate in forest fire suppression
- Work with private landowners, governments, farmers, and others to remove timber or improve land with minimal environmental damage
Conservation scientists and foresters evaluate data on forest and soil quality, assessing damage to trees and forest lands caused by fires and logging activities. In addition, they lead activities such as suppressing fires and planting seedlings. Fire-suppression activities include measuring the speed at which fires spread and the success of planned suppression.
Conservation scientists and foresters use a variety of tools and equipment. For example, they use clinometers to measure tree height, diameter tapes to measure tree circumference, and increment borers and bark gauges to measure tree growth for calculating timber volume and estimating growth rates. They also may use drones, aerial photographs, satellite images, and Geographic Information System (GIS) data to map large forest or range areas.
Conservation scientists manage, improve, and protect natural resources. They work with private landowners and federal, state, and local governments to find ways to use and improve the land while safeguarding the environment. They also advise farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers on ways to improve land while safeguarding the environment.
The following are examples of types of conservation scientists:
Conservation land managers work for land trusts or other conservation organizations to protect the wildlife habitats, biodiversity, scenic value, and other specific attributes of preserves and conservation lands.
Range managers, also called range conservationists, protect grazing lands to maximize their use without harming the environment. Rangelands contain many natural resources and cover millions of acres in the United States. Range managers may catalog animals, plants, and soils; develop resource management plans; help to restore ecosystems; or help oversee a ranch. They also maintain soil stability and vegetation for wildlife habitats, outdoor recreation, and other uses. Like foresters, range managers work to prevent and reduce wildfires and invasive species.
Soil and water conservationists give technical help in managing concerns related to soil and water. They develop programs to help landowners make their land productive without causing damage. They also help landowners and governments by advising on water quality, preserving water supplies, and handling erosion.
Foresters’ responsibilities vary by employer. Their duties may include creating plans to regenerate forested lands, monitoring the progress of reforested lands, and supervising tree harvests. They also design plans to keep forests free from disease, harmful insects, and damaging wildfires. Foresters may direct the work of forest and conservation workers and technicians.
The following are examples of types of foresters:
Procurement foresters contact, negotiate with, and buy timber from local forest owners. Procurement typically requires taking inventory on the type, amount, and location of a property’s standing timber. Procurement foresters then appraise the timber’s worth, negotiate its purchase, and draw up a contract for purchase and removal. After the contract is in place, these foresters usually subcontract with loggers or pulpwood cutters to fell trees and to help lay out roads for removing the timber.
Urban foresters live and work in cities and manage the trees. These workers focus on issues related to urban wellbeing, including air quality, shade, and storm water runoff.
Conservation education foresters train teachers and students about issues facing forest lands.