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Forestry Technicians


Forests have provided wood and timber for fuel, shelter, and other construction since the beginning of civilization. Early peoples used wood to build boats and rafts, as well as dwelling places. By the time of the Roman Empire, vast amounts of wood were being cut in many forested areas of Europe. Fortunately, most of these forests were large enough and grew back fast enough to supply the needs of the Europeans.

Eventually, however, with the development of machines that reduced the cost and increased the speed of cutting logs, forests were cut down faster than they could grow back. Realizing this, the Europeans began to conserve and manage their forests. This marked the beginning of the science of forestry.

Forests covered about half of North America when its only inhabitants were Native Americans. Much of this forested area was not cleared until early settlers first cut down the forests so they could build shelters and farm the land. With the clearing of the forests, as well as natural destructive forces such as fire and disease, the woodlands began to be depleted faster than they could grow. By the early 1900s, only about one-third of the United States was forested. It became evident that the United States needed to follow the methods of forest management and conservation already used in Europe, and the government enacted a series of conservation measures. As part of these measures, professional foresters, tree genetics experts, forest-culture research scientists, and forest management scientists were trained to work in government and private industry.

By about 1960, the forestry profession had a need for technical workers to perform duties that required a training level higher than the manually skilled forest workers yet lower than the professional foresters and scientists. Certain colleges began to offer two-year programs leading to an associate's degree in forest technology, and the position of forestry technician was developed and recognized by the Society of American Foresters (SAF). The demand for these technically trained workers grew rapidly, and technicians have now become an essential part of the management team in the production and conservation process.

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