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A Day In the Life of A Forester
A Sampling of Real Michigan Foresters and the Wide Diversity of Career Paths


Scott Jones
Forest Planner
Michigan DNR

Forest planning is one of the most challenging tasks in the suite of forest management activities, but it is one of the most important because it establishes the relationship among the goals and objectives for managing forest values and the implementation tactics needed to achieve them. Forest planning can and should be done at a variety of scales and requires a sound understanding of forest ecology. It also requires familiarity with legal and policy direction, the requirements of forest certification and the management context. Michigan’s state forest is co-managed by Forest Resources and Wildlife divisions and must reflect the desires of the public in the expression of values and the associated goals and objectives for the forest.

Forest planning is complex, it is founded in sound science, it draws on all parts of the organization, it involves the public and stakeholders and it is an act of consensus building. Plans must take into consideration issues of scale and there must be agreement in direction among those scales. Plans must provide clear direction in terms of goals, objectives and the tactics needed to implement them.

Once plans have been developed, the implementation begins and assessing that implementation is a critical component of the entire process. Assessment of the effectiveness of plans is accomplished through implementation monitoring (did we do what we said we would do) and effectiveness monitoring (did what we do have the desired and expected effect). Planners need to keep on top of each of these monitoring activities and revising the plans when necessary. The results of monitoring and the assessments are used by the planners to report on the progress of the plan implementation to the public and stakeholders.

Forest planning is a complex process that will become even more so as the impacts of climate change on our forest ecosystems becomes more apparent. The role of planning in sustainable forest management will become even more important than ever.

If you have a strong background in forest management, forest ecology, systems ecology, can see the big picture, describe inter-relationships, and enjoy working with a wide range of specialists and policy developers; then planning and the satisfaction of making a difference is for you.



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This website is maintained by Bill Cook, Michigan State University Extension Forester in the Upper Peninsula.  Comments, questions, and suggestions are gratefully accepted. 
Last update of this page was 12 March, 2014