Forestry Education

Throughout the late 1980s and the 1990s, there was a tremendous evolution of FORESTRY in Canada and around the world. Forestry became increasingly important for both the ECONOMY and the ENVIRONMENT, and the practice of forestry became more complex. In addition, forestry has been shaped by local concerns as well as international issues.

The Canadian Forestry Education System
Appropriate to the importance and diversity of the Canadian FOREST sector, the forestry education system is composed of many institutions, diverse in their objectives, their relative size and location.

At the national level, the universities that have a forestry school are linked through the Association of University Forestry Schools of Canada (AUFSC). However, no national association exists for either vocational schools or technical colleges. These institutions are mainly designed to meet each province's needs, and they are generally located in major FOREST REGIONS. Without forgetting the impact of the distances imposed by the vastness of the country, the absence of a national association of vocational schools and technical colleges results from both the regional differences that need to be accommodated and the fact that education at all levels is a provincial responsibility.

In 1991, a survey was conducted by R.A. Woods about universities and schools offering programs related to the forest sector. The results showed that throughout Canada, 53 institutions offer more than 63 post-secondary educational programs in this area. These programs cover the whole range of forestry and forestry-related subjects: forest management, forest engineering, wood science, woodworking, renewable RESOURCES, forest recreation, lumber and plywood (see LUMBER AND WOOD INDUSTRIES), and fish and wildlife (see WILDLIFE CONSERVATION). This general picture remains accurate, even though there have been some changes since 1991. The most significant is the opening in 1994 of the University of Northern British Columbia, which offers programs in natural resources management.

No survey has been conducted to gather information about Canadian vocational schools related to forestry. However, if Québec is taken as an example, there are 17 schools that offer 8 different training programs at the secondary level: SILVICULTURE, harvesting, lumber processing, pulp and paper (see PULP AND PAPER INDUSTRY), saw filing, forest management, lumber classification, and felling and cutting. These schools often specialize in 3 or 4 programs and are distributed in most regions of Québec. In addition, there are 8 Québec colleges that offer programs related to forestry. These include pulp and paper, wood products processing, and forest technology.

If one goes into more detail at the university level for the traditional forestry education (ie, excluding pulp and paper), many Canadian universities offer undergraduate programs in forestry. The institutions that are part of the AUFSC and have accredited baccalaureate programs are the following:

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA: Forestry Program and Forest Business Management Program

UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA: Forest Resources Management Program and Forest Operations Program

LAKEHEAD UNIVERSITY: Forestry Program

UNIVERSITÉ LAVAL: Forest Environment and Forest Resources Management Program

UNIVERSITY OF MONCTON: Forest Sciences Program

UNIVERSITY OF NEW BRUNSWICK: Forest Ecosystem Management Program and Forest Engineering Program

University of Northern BC: Natural Resources Management Program

The length of the undergraduate programs varies from province to province according to the duration of previous education before entering university (high-school diplomas after 11 or 12 years of education in all provinces, plus 2 years of college education in Québec). In fact, for all universities, the forestry training acquired by students at the end of the baccalaureate is similar. Some universities, however, offer specialized co-operative programs where students alternate between university courses and on-the-job training.

At the graduate level, several universities have programs in forest management or forest sciences while some also deal with forest biology, forest CONSERVATION, forest engineering (forest operations), wood science or agroforestry.

In forestry, as in any other profession, programs are constantly being adjusted to follow the evolution of the society they serve. Moreover, there are many stakeholders to consult and program design is always a delicate balancing act between requirements, resources and regulations. The reward of a responsive attitude is a forestry education that is not only relevant but is perceived by all external stakeholders, by faculty members and by the students as being relevant.