Forest Engineer

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Forest Engineer


There is no denying the importance of forest-related industries to the economy. Trees are primary resources that we harvest and sell off in order to stay competitive in a global economy. Mining or logging companies often own land that is regularly harvested of trees. Roads, campsites, and even railroads are constructed through those forests in order to transport logs and workers. These construction initiatives are potentially devastating to an environment. However, forest engineers practice responsible development, ensuring that our forests are remaining a natural renewable resource.

Forest engineers direct construction, installation, and use of structures, equipment, and road or rail systems. They are also concerned with removal of logs from timber area. They decide on loading points and storage areas, and plan the transportation routes to access these areas. They also plan and build campsites, loading docks, bridges and culverts, equipment shelters, and water and sewage systems.

They also look after a forest's environment. They look for ways to maintain efficient and safe removal of logs from constantly shifting cutting areas, prevent pollution during forest operations, and monitor the state of the area's flora and fauna during construction.

Forest engineers work for governments, conservation authorities, and private logging companies, ensuring that forest land is used wisely, optimizing production of forest resources and minimizing adverse impacts on the land, water and wildlife.

They aim to preserve the forests' esthetics, wildlife, soil and water resources, while still allowing for recreational activities, timber sales, and oil drilling operations. These professionals look to preserve a balance between exploiting a forests' resources without depleting them.
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  Interests and Skills  
Interested in working as a forest engineer? Forest engineers need to be interested in nature, forests specifically. They should have mechanical aptitude, and the ability to visualize structures before they are built. They must work well in a team environment, have good organizational and communication skills, as well as, a keen interest in all aspects of nature and a serious concern for the environment. They should be able to direct the activities of others. Planning and time management skills, decision-making and problem-solving skills are also useful. Forest engineers also require computer and calculation skills. To succeed in this career they should also be adaptable, practical, responsible and alert.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Plan and oversee forest engineering activities such as road layout and construction
  • Plan and supervise timber harvesting operations
  • Advise government and industry officials on forest engineering issues
  • Investigate the impact of forest engineering operations on soils, water, wildlife and their habitats
  • Assess human and environmental impacts on forests
  • Develop and test harvesting processes
  • A forest engineer has a lot of tasks to take care of in a typical day. Along with tests, monitoring developments, and checking in with loggers and foresters, a forest engineer must also keep records of all activities taking place in their forest, communicate with logging and mining companies, conservation authorities, and the local government to keep them informed about forest engineering developments and natural conditions. They travel around the forest, and spend a few days a week outdoors.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Forest engineers divide their time between working outdoors in small crews. They sometimes have to drive or hike to places of interest, sometimes camping out to do a proper assessment of conditions or project progress. They can be exposed to all types of weather and animals living in the woods.
  • A fair amount of time is spent in offices too. They work on planning and administration for governments, forest management companies, and for companies that own forests, such as logging companies. They also work for consulting companies, educational institutions, and oil and mining companies. Some forest engineers are self-employed as private consultants.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Forest engineers can advance to supervisory roles, begin work as a forester, or work within civilian or environmental engineering. Some may choose to become researchers, or forestry scientists, assessing the data gathered by forest technologists and technicians. With additional experience, forester engineers may move into management and administrative positions, or move into related fields such as land use planning, reclamation work, vegetation control, surveying or working in state or national parks.

  Educational Paths  
Forest engineers usually have a university degree in forest engineering, forestry or engineering. It is also a good idea for them to get some experience on their own. They might try camping, hiking, and traveling the bush in all-terrain or four-wheel-drive vehicles. There are also many opportunities for young people to work as tree planters and find out about living in the trees.

Some states require forest engineers to register with a professional association. Information about this is passed along in forestry-related programs at school.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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