A forest ecologist is a specialized scientist and naturalist who works to preserve natural forest habitats. He or she manages human technological impacts on the plants, animals, and soils in these areas. Forest ecologists may be employed by local, state, or federal government agencies to monitor and ensure regulatory compliance for forested regions. An ecologist can also work for a public or private park or a nature preserve, or as part of scientific research teams studying environmental impacts on forests.
Forest ecologists typically perform much of their work in the field and under a variety of weather conditions. The ecologist will typically study things like evidence of growth, animal, and insect activity. He or she will also study external impacts. He or she typically documents similar areas for comparison over time and takes constant measurements of aspects like soil composition, ground cover, and other natural signposts.
A forest ecologist will typically be required to have a degrees in forestry or a related environmental discipline. The ecologist may also be required to gather practical experience through internships and teaching within academic environments before seeking employment within the public or private sector. Most forest ecologists split their time between field work, which involves observations, recording, and sample gathering, and lab work, which involves testing. They normally work daytime hours, but irregular hours, overnights in the field, and travel are also regular parts of this job.
Forest Ecologist Tasks
- Write and interpret site descriptions, training briefs, grant proposals and scientific and technical materials.
- Monitor the forest's health and risks and create plans for conservation and restoration.
- Coordinate scientific and conservation efforts, communicating key data to multiple audiences.
- Collect, catalogue, and analyze data on forest characteristics such as plant species, animal species, density of organisms, etc.
- Evaluate conservation and restoration results, and modify scientific methods in light of new data.