Learn more about the forestry profession.

What is Forestry?

Forestry is the science, art, and practice of sustainably managing forested resources for the benefit of humans. That’s the simple definition – its full understanding requires a little in-depth analysis of some key points.

1. Forestry is both a science and an art.

It is rooted in the basic sciences of biology, chemistry and mathematics and is performed with the applied sciences of ecology, silviculture, and management. While science guides the decisions of a forester, it does not make them for him or her. Foresters must apply their knowledge in a decision-making arena where good solutions are not always obvious, conflicting human interests must be considered, and conflicting opinions must be compromised. This need for experienced judgment, diplomacy and tact constitutes the art of forestry.

2. Forestry is a profession – not just a job or occupation.

It is a practice in the sense that medicine and law are practices. The education of forestry practitioners is accredited by a professional association (Society of American Foresters) and their professional conduct is guided and governed by a Code of Ethics. There is much more to being a forester than taking a few courses.

3. Forestry is guided by the principles of sustainability.

Sound forestry decisions consider the current and future health of the forest and strive to ensure that benefits will be available for future generations.

4. Forestry involves more resources than just trees.

Although trees are the predominant plant component of forests, foresters manage all of the resources found in forests. You will, therefore, find foresters concerned with trees, animals (both game and non-game), soils, water, insects, diseases (both tree and animal) and human beings.

5. Foresters manage for a broad spectrum of benefits that humans desire from their forests.

This includes the obvious things we take from forests – like wood and game species, but also includes less obvious things like water quality and quantity and benefits that have real value but are hard to measure – like wilderness, non-game and endangered species, recreation opportunities, clean air and biodiversity. The field of forestry can cover it all.

How can we help? Photo of Laura Lhotka

If you have questions about the UK Forestry program or would like to schedule a visit, let us know.

Contact Laura Lhotka, Forestry Academic Coordinator 859-257-8718, laura.lhotka@uky.edu