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Professional education in forestry


HARDY L. SHIRLEY is Dean, State University College of Forestry, Syracuse University, New York, and Chairman, FAO Advisory Committee on Forestry Education.

With special reference to its organization in developing countries

A developing nation having no forestry school or long-established professional forest practice is faced with many questions that need to be answered to size up its needs and how they can best be met. First of all, these deal with the nature of the forestry tasks to be performed. What is the extent of forest land? What are the timber species and their value for industrial use? Is the forest owned by the public or by private corporations and individuals? What are the primary purposes of managing the forest: is it timber for local use or for export; is it for watershed protection; is it for the production of wildlife or forage for domestic animals? How many foresters are needed? What preparation should they have? Should they be technicians, professional-level men, or highly educated research men, teachers and specialists? If all three are needed, should these be educated at home, abroad, or some at home and some sent abroad for a part or all of their professional education? These are questions to be decided at the ministry level because they involve the commitment of land, public funds, and people. They relate to government organization and national economic aims.

Assuming that a professional-level forestry school is found to be needed, another series of questions immediately arises. Should this school be located in the forest or in a city? Should it be operated by the agency responsible for administering the forest or by a university? Should its teachers be practitioners and men of affairs or academicians? Should it have close liaison with timber operations, the lumber, plywood, and pulp and paper industry; with those concerned with commerce in lumber and other forest products; and with government, or should it be completely free and independent of practice and concern itself mostly with education? What should its relationship be to research to the basic sciences supporting forestry, to such collateral disciplines as agriculture, engineering, business administration, and public administration? These are searching questions, not all to be answered by a simple yes or no. Here much depends on both the status of forest practice by the government agencies and the stature of the university. Much also depends upon the nation's resources, its organization, and its political aims and responsibilities.

Administrative responsibility

The above questions can be condensed to the following: What are the relationship and responsibilities of professional forestry education to practice? What are its relationship and responsibilities to research?

The basic issue is whether or not education in forestry should be of an apprenticeship nature, to prepare new foresters to carry on the tasks that the present forestry organization performs. If this is its function, it might well be made a responsibility of the administrative forestry agency. If professional foresters are to be prepared to formulate new policy, to find new ways in which the forest resources of the nation can be mobilized and used for the benefit of the populace, if they are to arrive at a better understanding of the basic nature of the biologic laws governing the development of the forest, if, in short, they are to develop practices for the future, they had best be educated in a university. Before accepting such a conclusion, however, it will be well to review forestry education in historic perspective to see if, in fact, the lesson of history supports this statement.

Early organization of forestry education

The first formal programs of education for foresters were the so-called "master" schools. These began in Germany as early as 1763 (Fernow, 1913). The two great masters of forestry, Hartig and Cotta, each had a master school. Master schools spread widely from these two, and German foresters were invited to Russia to take charge of forest management and to educate foresters. Each Forstmeister (forest master) was assigned six pupils for instruction.

The master school had much to commend it. The pupils, or students, lived and worked in close association with a master. They had almost daily contact with him, served as his assistants and performed many of the work tasks. By observation, by listening to theoretical discussion, by helping with the preparation management plans and other activities they learned the responsibilities and the lore and techniques of a forest officer. The master, in turn, came to know his pupils intimately and so was in a position to judge their competence and personal qualities as managers of forest properties.

The master schools of Cotta and Hartig were established in 1785 and 1789 respectively, the former developing later into the school at Tharandt. The master pattern was a common one of the day, being used by the budding professions of law, medicine, and earlier even by such great centers of learning as the University of Paris: this pattern has persisted in forestry into the twentieth century.

As forestry advanced, the need arose for more formal instruction than could be given by a master. Forestry schools 1 were the direct result. The earlier forestry schools were mostly supported by the local or federal government, though the first forestry schools in Austria were established by Prince Schwarzenberg and Prince Liechtenstein, the two largest owners of forest land. The publicly-supported forestry schools date back to 1790 at Munich, Bavaria; 1803 at St. Petersburg, Russia; 1813 at Mariabrunn, Austria; 1825 at Nancy, France; 1828 at Stockholm, Sweden; 1848 at Turin, Italy; and 1878 at Debra Dun, India. These schools were later followed by a number of others organized in Germany, Russia, Poland, the Scandinavian countries, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Philippines, Japan, and elsewhere.

1 The term "forestry school" will be used in this paper in the sense in which it is used in the World directory of forestry schools, published in 1960 by the Society of American Foresters in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. "Forestry school" is used as a generic term that includes colleges of forestry, faculties of forestry, sections or divisions of forestry, departments of forestry and colleges or faculties of agriculture and forestry, or other disciplines in combination with forestry. The more specific designations above may be used in discussing individual institutions. The criterion of a forestry school is not its name but, rather, whether it offers professional-level education in forestry and related sciences. Institutions offering subprofessional education will be referred to as ranger schools or technician schools.

Although state supported, the majority of these forestry schools were operated by the state forest administration, following a pattern similar to that of military academies in various nations. They had considerable advantage over the master schools in that more than one teacher was employed: this permitted some specialization in the individual fields of forestry. The schools were highly practical in that the men were selected on the basis of their qualifications to become members of the state or federal forestry service. They were taught by practitioners who were intimately acquainted with the demands of the work and the courses included a considerable amount of practical teaching in the forest itself.

The third pattern of forestry education is the forestry school located at a university and an intimate part of it. Just as the master school gave way to the state-supported forestry school, so the practitioner-operated forestry schools have tended to give way to the university forestry school. The Austrian forestry school was transferred in 1875 from Mariabrunn to the University for Agriculture in Vienna. The Italian school was moved to the University of Florence in 1910. Forestry education in Switzerland was started in 1885 at the Technical University in Zurich. In 1898, the first forestry school in America was founded at Cornell University and in 1900 a postgraduate school of forestry was organized at Yale University. Among the 137 schools of forestry listed in the World directory of forestry schools published in 1960 by the Society of American Foresters in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization, only six appeared to be completely independent of a university connection at the time the data were gathered. This listing does not include forestry schools in the U.S.S.R., or in China (Mainland), and has incomplete coverage of eastern European countries. In 1958 the U.S.S.R. had both independent schools and schools connected with universities (Shirley, 1958). The fact that so many of the world's forestry schools are today located at universities is, in itself, strong evidence of the merit of such a connection. This is further supported by the strong trend in recent years for those that were previously independent to seek a university connection. The forestry school at Tharandt, Federal Republic of Germany, is a part of the Technical University of Dresden; that at Hanover-Münden, part of Göttingen University; the school at Reinbek is affiliated with the University of Hamburg. The College of Forestry in the Philippines is part of the University of the Philippines; the Faculty of Forestry in Turkey is part of the University of Istanbul. Many others could be named. On the other hand, there has been a relatively high mortality in forestry schools not having university connections or unable to establish them.

Many forestry schools with independent support have also formed informal alliances with a university. At the University of Rangoon, for example, the instructors in forestry come from the state forest service and are given professional titles by the university. The state supports the instruction, but the students pursue courses both in the university proper as well as in the forestry school. A similar pattern has been worked out for the forestry school in Pakistan in co-operation with the University of Peshawar. Even the strong and well-supported forestry school at Nancy, France, has its academic connections with the agriculture and engineering faculties. The same is true of the forestry schools at Stockholm and Madrid.

Among the major forestry schools of the world the only one still operating without a university connection is the Indian Forest College at Dehra Dun. This school, however, is a part of the Indian Forest Research Institute and Colleges and looks to the research institute for much of the theoretical instruction. Moreover, the school is a graduate school requiring a university degree for entrance (Kulkarni, 1963). Even with these advantages, students from the forest college at Dehra Dun experience difficulty in getting advanced credit standing toward a Ph. D. degree in American and other graduate schools.

Participants at the first session of the FAO advisory committee on forestry education, Mérida, Venezuela, 22-29 February 1964.

Sitting, left to right

T. KOMKRIS (Member), Dean, Faculty of Forestry, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand; J. W. R. SISAM (Member), Dean. Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, H. L. SHIRLEY (Chairman), Dean, State University College of Forestry, at Syracuse University, Syracuse, N. Y., U.S.A.; E. BENSON, Acting Dean, College of Forestry, University of Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia; R. VINEY (Member), Directeur de l'Ecole nationale des eaux et forêts, Nancy, France;

Standing, left to right

H. C. VON CHRISTEN, German Forestry, Mission, Universidad Distrital, Bogotà, Colombia; J. Q. WILLIAMSON (Member) Director, Forestry Commission (Wales), Aberiswyth, Cardiganshire Wales, U.K. I. N. COSTANTINO (Member), Sub-Administrador General de Bosques, Buenos Aires, Argentina; A. G. FRIEDRICH, Chief, Forestry, Institutions Section, FAO, Rome, Italy; R. VILORIA DIAZ, Presidente, Instituto Forestal Latinoamericano de Investigación y Capacitación (IFLAIC) Mérida, Venezuela; S. J. PERICCHI, Jefe División Evaluación de Recursos Naturales Renovables, Ministerio de Agricultura V Cría, Caracas, Venezuela; M. PRATS ZAPIRAÍN (Member), Secretario General, Dirección General de Montes, Madrid, Spain.

The chief argument, however, for locating a forestry school in a university is the breadth of education needed by a modern forester. Forest land makes up almost one third of the land area of the earth outside of the Arctic waste regions. In many countries, forest land and forest products are the mainstay of the local economy. World-wide, timber remains one of the chief products for the construction of housing and modest-sized commercial establishments. The pulp and paper industry is based on wood fiber, and its size and strength in a country is a fair measure of the extent of industrialization. The management of forests therefore becomes a matter of high public significance in all countries having substantial forest resources. The policies governing such management may determine in the long run if the nation is to survive as an economically and politically independent entity. A heavy responsibility, therefore, rests on forest officers in such nations to provide public understanding of the importance of forests and to develop public support for necessary legal and administrative measures to ensure sound management of forests. Such foresters will be competing against the best educated men of the land for public attention and for the allocation of public funds. It is necessary for foresters, especially those in senior positions, to have an education comparable with that of lawyers, public health officials and others with whom they must associate and compete for public attention and funds.

Over and beyond this, forestry as a profession is becoming increasingly complex. It must deal with nature's grandest and most complex biologic unit, the forest. Barely is it possible or desirable to plant and cultivate timber trees in the way that orchard trees and farm crops are handled. The forester must depend upon the complex biologic community of the forest to perform the major functions handled by the farmer through plowing, seeding, cultivating, spraying against disease and insects, fertilizing, and even irrigating the land. Timber harvesting and manufacturing involve up-to-date techniques in civil, mechanical, and chemical engineering. The forest land manager as well as the logger must be a road builder and must understand how to use road-building equipment. Those who use lumber in modern construction need to understand the mechanical principles of design of trusses, beams, and buildings. Bridge construction is often the responsibility of a forest officer and a logger. Pulp and paper technology involves chemical engineering. An understanding of economics is of importance both for the management of the individual forest tract and for assessing the role of forestry and forest products in a national economy. Determination of forest inventory over large areas as well as the contents of individual trees and stands becomes a problem in forest statistics and design of survey. Forest research likewise involves the application of statistics and advanced mathematical analysis often using electronic data processing. The newer computer technology embraces systems analysis and the use of mathematical models in research applied to forestry operations.

Forestry, therefore, must draw extensively upon the physical sciences and engineering, upon biology and applied ecology, and upon the social sciences of economics and resource management. These basic disciplines are available in a modern university, but are unlikely to be found in the balance needed outside such institutions. The evidence seems therefore to be overwhelmingly in favor of establishing forestry schools at strong universities.

Organization within the university

A developing country, having decided that it is to have a professional-level forestry school to be located at a university, still faces a question for joint ministerial and university decision: the status the forestry school is to enjoy within the university. Is it to be on a school or college level, equal in status to the schools of engineering, law, agriculture, and medicine, with the dean of forestry reporting directly to the president or vice-president in charge of academic affairs? Is it to be a department within another college and, if so, what college? A look at the worldwide patterns may be helpful.



Number of schools

College, school, or faculty


Division or section within a college


Independent department


Department in college of agriculture


Co-ordinated with agriculture


Independent of university




1 Does not include forestry schools of the U.S.S.R. or China (Mainland) or many eastern European countries.

The classification of 135 professional schools given in the World directory of forestry schools is revealing (Table 1). Of these, 54 are separate schools within a university or separate faculties having their own dean or administrative officer and their own separate budget. This is considered to be the preferred status. Such a status is indicated in the directory by such designation as school of forestry, college of forestry, or faculty of forestry. Second in hierarchical importance within the university is the designation as section of forestry or division of forestry, which is found in some of the universities. Forestry may be a division of a college of agriculture, for example, and, in some cases, of a college of engineering.

A third status is that of a department within a university: 11 of the 135 forestry schools are so listed. Department status within a college of engineering or political science is often thought preferable to a department within a college of agriculture as experience has often shown that agriculture tends to dominate forestry because of the generally greater importance of the former. Irrespective of this, however, 55 of the 135 forestry schools are listed as departments in colleges of agriculture.

The merits of placing forestry education in a school of agriculture deserve special consideration. Certainly in a developing country where university resources are necessarily limited and where agriculture appropriately occupies an important role in the university program and in the national economy, there is much to be said for placing forestry in the agricultural college. Botany, entomology, zoology, soils science, pathology, bacteriology, rural economics, and sociology and many other agricultural subjects can be taken with profit by foresters from the faculty of agriculture. But there is a fundamental difference between agriculture and forest technology as mentioned above. The forester must depend mostly upon natural biological processes rather than crop cultivation. His crops take long to mature and, hence, involve long-term capital commitments. Timber harvesting is a major engineering operation involving the handling of bulky and heavy materials. Forest products industries have little direct connection with food-processing industries. If, therefore, forestry is not to languish when placed in an agricultural college, it is important that instructors are found who appreciate the special conditions under which the forester must operate and who are willing to prepare special programs of instruction for forestry students. Fortunately, this situation has developed in most of the older forestry schools. Forestry, therefore, tends to acquire a status more or less co-ordinate with agriculture.

Though it may be argued that more forestry schools are organized as departments in an agricultural college than in any other one way, it is significant that 80 out of 135 are independent of agriculture or enjoy equal status. Especially in American universities, the trend is for equal status with agriculture even in land grant universities that receive money from the United States Department of Agriculture to help support the forestry school. It may also be worthy of note that the majority - 35 out of 55 - of forestry schools in agricultural colleges are found in two countries, Japan (24) and the United States (11). If forestry is not to be a department in a college of agriculture, it might perhaps be a department in a school of engineering, business administration, public administration or other academic area.

Again, forestry education is likely to be most effective if it is co-ordinated with each of these. Foresters need to be closely associated with biologists, engineers, economists, business administration, and public administrators. But none of these areas, in itself, embraces all the techniques a forester must employ; hence it is well for the forestry school to have close liaison with these related professional and scientific fields but not to be dominated by any of them.

Organization within the school or department

A forestry school in a developing country is likely to be small, perhaps having only five or six professors and, if these are charged with both instruction and research, they will be immensely busy. Even at this level, however, it would seem well if there were some delegation of responsibility within the school. Someone needs to pay major attention to research and another to instruction. But the majority will probably have both teaching and research responsibilities. There is a third activity to be mentioned later, extramural education, which also deserves its own administrative direction within the college. This pattern of having separate directors for research, instruction, and public education and extension has proved very successful in the agricultural colleges of the United States. It has its parallel in several forestry schools. Responsibilities in both research and public education will be given further consideration.

Relationship of the school to its students

In considering the responsibilities of a forestry school to academic fields related to forestry, to research, public education, the national and state governments, and to industry, the primary role of a forestry school - education of students for professional work - should be kept uppermost in mind. The student's needs include his general education as a man and as a forest technologist: both require formal instruction and informal teaching.

General education at a forestry school should include such instruction in the humanities and sciences as every educated person should have, and also in the responsibility of a man to his fellow men. Students need to appreciate the dignity of work, both manual and intellectual, the dignity of the individual whatever his economic status and his need to be treated with respect, the importance of good work habits, and the importance of accepting and discharging responsibility. Much of such education is imparted by the example of the teachers themselves and by the atmosphere established by the university in students' living quarters.

It may be well to deal with three specific aspects of the instructional program. First, the elective versus fixed curriculum; second, early versus later specialization; third, organization of students' study time versus freedom of time.

Forestry instruction in a newly developing country, especially one in which there has been no previous educational program in forestry, of necessity will have to begin with a limited curriculum. Initially, the curriculum had better be uniform for all students, otherwise the time of the faculty will be taken up giving a considerable number of specialized courses to only a small number of students. Moreover, few students are qualified to select the courses needed for all-round professional competence. Even in the subjects preparatory to forestry relatively limited choice can be extended to the student if he is to be able to cover the subject matter of forestry in a reasonably comprehensive manner. It seems appropriate, therefore, for the newly organized forestry school to offer a single curriculum covering forestry in its broadest aspects. Specializing should be left to the postgraduate years. The question does arise, however, as to whether specialization or a separate curriculum will be needed in forest products utilization. If so, at the start the curriculum should be standardized for all students until faculty resources are adequate to permit of a variety of courses.:

A third question dealing with curriculum is whether the faculty should program rather intensively the use of the students' time or leave this largely to the student himself. In other words, whether the program should be organized along the American university pattern or the European university pattern. There is much to commend both systems.

The American system is designed for the education of large numbers of students. Daily tasks are assigned by the instructor, class recitations are held in which the student is asked to recite on the subject matter assigned for reading, and the work covered in previous lessons. Lecturing is somewhat limited, but frequent examinations and "quizzes" are held to make sure the student has understood the work that has been covered. Such frequent checkup is useful both to the student and to the instructor. The student recognizes what is expected of him and the instructor finds out whether the students are, in fact, gaining a mastery of the work. Mutual stimulation occurs as students compete for academic honors. Moreover, the regular assignment of daily readings and laboratory work requires the student to make good use of his time and, in fact, budgets his time for him. In this way, he avoids floundering and soon finds out whether or not he can meet the standards of the university.

The European system is much more flexible from the students' and faculty members' standpoints. The student is free to attend or not to attend lectures as he sees fit. He must, to be sure, participate in certain laboratory exercises and conform to the schedule for such work, but he may pursue his reading assignments at will. Daily or weekly checkup by professors on student performance may not occur. The student has the responsibility of meeting certain examinations and passing them within specified time limits. It becomes his own personal responsibility to prepare himself for these. The first examinations occur after some 18 to 30 months of study, and the finals after some 4 years of study. His performance on these examinations determines whether or not he is to be awarded a degree and assesses his measure of performance.

For the talented student who has a deep and abiding interest in scholarship and who has the self-discipline to plan and follow a study program, the system works well. It results in a man better equipped to cope with the uncharted tasks and problems that lie ahead of him than one who has followed a prescribed study program. The faculty member is not tied down to a rigid teaching schedule and has more uninterrupted time for research and other activities. Having no daily recitations to conduct, he can give more time and thought to preparing lectures. The examining period is intensive and demanding, but occupies only a few weeks of the year. His scholarly performance, therefore, tends to be at a high level. The major disadvantage is that students and faculty members have less personal contact under the European system, and therefore tend to be remote from one another.

Buildings of the Forestry Faculty, Universidad Agraria, la Molina, Lima, Peru.

In developing countries, each forestry school will be obliged to follow the pattern of the university in which it is located. Where free choice is available there is much to commend a program of regular assignments and close liaison between instructor and student such as prevails in the American university. It should be borne in mind, however, that the American university at the postgraduate level follows rather closely the European pattern of giving the student broad assignments, holding him to comprehensive examinations, and expecting independent scholarship on his part.

Research and postgraduate education

Forestry education and forestry research have traditionally gone hand in hand. This seems to be particularly worthy of note for developing countries in which the number of available men is limited who have the necessary education and scientific talent for giving professional instruction and for carrying out research. Separation disperses talent and attenuates the effort of both. The United States of America affords an interesting case study of this question. Early research in forestry was sponsored by individuals and universities. With the organization of the United States Forest Service a division of research was established that soon dominated the field. This pattern was in sharp contrast to that of agriculture, where from the first federal funds were made available to support education, extension and research in agriculture within the several states. Research in forestry schools developed very slowly. Only in 1963 were steps taken by the federal government to give direct support to research in forestry schools. This came about largely through recognition that the federal forest research stations could not be adequately staffed without better educated research men, and that such men could come only from schools with good research programs. In nations where research has been closely integrated with forestry education, both research and education have tended to be strong in relation to the total effort expended. But a word of caution may be useful. If a developing nation is to place responsibility for research under the forestry school, it probably should provide for some administration of the research program. Forest administrators and the forest products industries are faced with many practical and pressing problems. They have a reasonable right to expect that the agency responsible for research will give serious consideration to their needs and seek to meet them. This may not occur if every instructor is free to use his research time and funds on whatever research problem strikes his fancy.

A developing nation that makes provision for research in its forestry school will more quickly reach the stage at which postgraduate education becomes possible than if research is organized separately. Specialization is essential for effective research. A newly organized school should not attempt postgraduate education until well qualified to do so. Meanwhile, sending nationals abroad for postgraduate study has many advantages. It affords an opportunity to become acquainted with different forestry conditions, a different faculty, and different ways of approaching forestry problems. Ultimately, however, each country that wishes to be self-sufficient in its forestry education must be prepared to offer postgraduate education to prepare people for research in forestry, for teaching forestry in universities, and for high-level administrative posts. This means that a postgraduate program at least to the master's degree or its equivalent should be projected. A school would do well to plan its postgraduate program carefully. Before embarking on it the school would generally seek the advice of competent outside authorities. Such a review can be very helpful to a developing school. It should also direct its postgraduate studies, first, to areas of forestry most in need of research and development within the nation.

Extramural and extension responsibilities

A modern university differs radically from the university of the middle ages and even from the university of before the second world war. No longer is it a cloistered institution, but one dealing in world affairs. In developed as well as developing countries, university professors are sought as advisers and consultants to government, industry, commerce, other universities, governments of foreign nations, and even to foreign universities. Moreover, a forestry college supported at public expense has a responsibility to make its services and technology available to support the central government and the industries supporting the national economy. It is entirely appropriate, therefore, that faculty members accept these duties.

Both the university and the nation benefit from such extramural activity. The faculty member's talent is drawn upon to advise on pressing public issues on which he can bring to bear a degree of objectivity that those enmeshed in day-to-day administration may lack. In turn, he keeps abreast of current events in forestry, is stimulated to broader thinking, and gains stature in the eyes of his colleagues and students.

The university has another great responsibility: educating the general public as to the importance of their nation's forest resources and of the need for management of these resources in the interests of all. A forestry school in a developing country must therefore have close relationships with government and industry on the one hand, and with the general public on the other. To a large extent it will exercise its influence through extension publications, films and public addresses, and through preparing material for use by schoolteachers and others who can reach many people. To neglect this activity may cause the entire forestry program of a nation to falter. It is by such extramural activities that young people of ability learn of the opportunities that can be theirs through a forestry education.

A special type of extramural education is that afforded by short courses, seminars, symposia, conferences, and related informal instruction given to workers in the forest products industries, forest products technologists, and professional foresters who may need special instruction. Forest survey techniques, new developments in silviculture and in the application of systems analysis to forest management are but a few of the examples of rapidly changing technology that needs to be brought to bear on forest practice. The responsibilities and opportunities are wide, and provision should be made to meet them.

Educating forest technicians

For every professional forester educated, a developing nation can well afford to educate two or three technicians. The latter can usually be educated within a two-year as opposed to the minimum of a four-year curriculum for the professional. They can perform a great variety of tasks that otherwise would be required of professionals. The pattern of technical schools and professional schools is well developed in Europe, in Canada and in other countries. It is only now developing in the United States. In consequence, a fairly large number of men educated in a four-year curriculum for professional-level performance in forestry in the United States have been obliged to spend much of their life doing subprofessional work, and some have never risen above this level.

Some schools of forestry have sought to combine the education of subprofessional and professionals into a common program, the subprofessionals leaving at the end of two years and the professionals continuing for four. Such practice usually works at a disadvantage for both technical and professional education and those engaged in it. The programs seem to be most satisfactory where they are completely separated on two different campuses. The subprofessional school may be operated as a part of a professional forestry school but, if so, it should have its separate faculty, separate campus, and separate curriculum. The professional faculty can be of service in supplementing the teaching given by the technician or ranger school faculty and by lending general educational support to the technical institute. This pattern is followed successfully at the State University College of Forestry at Syracuse University, the University of Toronto, Pennsylvania State University, and at the Indian Forest Research Institute and Colleges.

New developments and trends

The responsibilities of forestry schools have expanded considerably in the last two decades. As never before, the forest land manager is called upon to consider the management of forests for more than the wood crop. Water, wildlife and, increasingly, recreational use have L grown in importance. And wood itself is being recognized as a complex rather than simple product. Trees for pulpwood, poles, piling, veneer logs, factory-grade, sawlogs and sawlogs for special products are being selected in the forest and grown to meet a specific market demand. Forest genetics and forest tree improvement are of growing interest.

Aerial photogrammetry is being widely applied in mapping, determining forest area and types, and estimating timber volumes. Forest surveys are now designed using sophisticated statistical procedures and mathematical models. Continuous forest inventory plots are established to determine precisely changes over a period of time in the volume and quality of timber. Modern electronic data processing is being used extensively in forest research and management. It is also widely applied in all kinds of statistical studies, in multivariable experiments in plant physiology and silviculture, in forestry economics, and a host of other ways. This requires understanding by the research man and practitioner of the types of work that electronic data processing can handle and how to design experiments so that - advantage may be taken of this useful computing device.

A new approach called systems analysis now greatly extends the range of material that can be processed to determine the appropriate combination of factors to optimize end results. Forestry economics and logging have their potential for use of mathematical models. Electronic computers have been used to monitor and control a paper machine, stress grade lumber, and schedule manufacturing operations and orders for goods. Eventually may be expected to perform a high percentage of repetitive clerical and control work.

Developments in polymer chemical research are revealing new knowledge of the structure of cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin. The last decade has seen an enormous advance in this field. New methods of plasticizing wood, slicing wood for thin lumber and wood laminates, forming branch polymers of cellulose, and developing finishes that are chemically bonded to cellulose are extending the potentials for new and improved use of wood. Lasers have been used to cut wood. The electron microscope is bringing to light new understanding of the structure of the woody cell; how it develops and how it is broken down by bacteria or fungi. Studies in biochemistry are also opening our eyes to the systems of synthesis and decay of plant materials. Studies of the soil-dwelling mites and other arthropods are revealing a complex order of food chains that account for wood decay and the soil-building action of these tiny creatures.

An approach is even being made to studying the entire forest biomass, and its use of solar energy. Behind this Lies the intriguing problem of the entire biosystem as a living complex for transforming solar energy into chemical energy and, in turn, releasing this chemical energy for earth radiation and soil building. Within this system are enmeshed all living creatures, including man and his works. Its dynamics in the broader aspects are not beyond the scope of modern mathematical theory and computer science.

One could elaborate much farther, but there is no need to do so. The examples cited provide ample evidence of the growing powers of man to extend his intellectual grasp of the forest and its many influences, including those on man himself. These powers have great importance in relation to the education of foresters. They emphasize the need for increasingly high scholarship and an interpretive skill extending far beyond the competence of the forester of two decades ago.

It is clear therefore that forestry is indeed an eclectic science, drawing its sustenance from the physical, biologic, and social sciences with which it must ever maintain intimate association.

Forestry technology today is a national and international asset freely available for use to the people and universities of all lands to the extent that they are competent to grasp its meaning and apply it. Each forestry school in turn has its share of responsibility to help build up this world-wide store of forestry information. Even a newly-organized forestry college in a developing country can make its contribution to this total world knowledge. Generally, it will be working in a new and relatively Little studied region, and with a people of unique background and social structure. It has need within itself to engage in research to keep its own faculty alive to change and growing in competence. It can draw much strength from other universities, provided it maintains close ties with them, especially with regional centers where research and advanced study can be concentrated. Although it has been stated that no country could be said to be truly self-sufficient in forestry until it can educate its own teachers and research men, this does not mean that it must be so from the beginning. Rather, it is welt for a new forestry school to concentrate, first, on doing a good job at the professional level, meanwhile sending its abler men abroad for postgraduate education for master's and doctoral degrees until such time as its own strength has been built up to a level where such programs can be properly undertaken at home.

In Latin America there are already two fine examples of regional centers with forestry programs: the Inter-American Institute of Agricultural Sciences at Turrialba, Costa Rica, and the University of the Andes at Mérida, Venezuela. Such centers can be used effectively by forestry students from Latin America, Canada, and the United States. Nations in Africa would also be wise to develop such educational centers. Possibilities exist for doing likewise in southeast Asia and in India where a well-developed forestry school and research institute already exist at Dehra Dun.

One other means exists for a new school in a developing country to acquire strength rapidly and to minimize costly mistakes. This is to form a liaison with a well-established school in a technologically advanced nation. Such a pattern of assistance has been worked out by the United States Agency for International Development (AID). Many universities, including their schools and departments, have been assisted in this way. A technologically developed country can furnish mature professors and research men to serve as tutors for national counterparts. A senior school can provide education for young faculty members, and in other ways provide nurture and sustenance to a newly developing school.

Meeting the challenge

A minister of education, reading this article, might well despair at this point. "How," he might ask, "can a developing nation support a forestry school that engages in technical, professional, and ultimately postgraduate level education and research, whose instructors consult with government and industry, whose campus is a home for students and faculty from other nations, and whose faculty, in turn, travel frequently to regional research and educational centers for advanced study and research? And, finally, how is such a college to prepare educational programs for schoolchildren, woods workers, the general public, the practicing technologists in government and industry, and the high-level government officials as well?" It may seem to be an overwhelming task, but somehow it must be performed. Let any one of these tasks break down completely, and the failure may spell the doom of the school and of the practice of forestry. Obviously, this demands of the director of the school the utmost in breadth of understanding and education, and also in skill in administration. It also demands of him a high degree of objectivity and devotion to the welfare of the school. No forestry school should be started with small plans. If it is, it will prove disappointing to the students, the faculty, and the government that supports it.

A good forestry school will be expensive. It will ultimately require a faculty of 20 or more men, perhaps as many as 50. It will require elaborate and expensive housing, adequate equipment, and well-educated faculty members. Its annual budget is likely to run well above 9;100,000, and the initial cost of establishing it and erecting the structures may be five times as much. It is therefore highly important that a nation should be convinced that it really needs a forestry school before attempting to establish one.


The first steps in organizing a forestry school for a developing country should be taken at the ministerial level. Provision should first be made to examine a nation's forest resources and what it expects to do with them and to decide whether, in view of their importance, the nation can afford the necessary expenditure to establish and support a good school of forestry. The second step, also at ministerial level, should be to decide whether the forestry school is to be operated by the government forest administration or by a university. Both history and current practice in other nations strongly support establishing it at a university. The nature of work to be performed requires drawing upon many branches of science and technology by the forestry school, and the resources of a university are needed for optimum development of forestry education.

Generally, in a developing country, forestry education and research should be carried on in the same institution. This will help to keep the faculty abreast of current practice and its needs. The faculty should stimulate in the students a sense of the importance of the work in which they are to engage. Within the university separate school status is preferable for forestry education. If it is organized as a department in another school, it is well to give it wide operational responsibility so that it can draw upon the resources of other university schools such as business administration, agriculture, engineering, and public administration as well as the biological and social sciences.

Within the school of forestry it is well to have special responsibility delegated for instruction and research. Ultimately, departments organized along disciplinary lines may be needed. Separate curricula may be necessary for forest products and forest land management. Within each, however, a fixed curriculum is desirable until such time as the forestry school is developed to such an extent that it can afford to give instruction in special fields as well as in a general curriculum. Specialization might well be withheld until the postgraduate level is attained. Organization of students' study programs along European or American lines is to be co-ordinated with the practice in the university to which the school of forestry is attached.

Developing countries should consider the desirability of having separate technical (subprofessional) programs for educating rangers and forest products technicians. Generally these should be administered on a separate campus by a separate faculty from that of the professional school.

A forestry school within a developing country should have close ties with government, industry and the forest administrative organization, and will also need to have ties with preparatory schools sending young men to college. Beyond this, it has an obligation to provide general education on forestry to schoolchildren, the general public, and people in public life.

The forestry college in a developing country should seek to establish ties with those of other lands in order to facilitate the exchange of students and graduate opportunities for its faculty and its own four-year graduates. The support of a regional center can do much toward helping to keep a faculty alive and alert to new developments in forestry throughout the world.


FERNOW, Bernard E. 1913. A brief history of forestry in Europe, the United States and other countries, 3d. edition, University Press, Toronto, and American Forestry Association, Washington, D.C., pp. 506.

KULKARNI, D. H. 1963. Plea for reforms in higher forestry education programmes of developing countries, Ind. For. 89: 583-592.

SHIRLEY, Hardy L. 1958. Forestry education and research in Russia, J. For. 56: 892-899.

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