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Forester (Aus)

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Summary of occupation

Foresters are responsible for managing the use of forests, ensuring there is a balance between conservation, recreational and commercial uses. They work in both natural forests and timber plantations, planning where and when to plant and harvest trees. As trees grow, foresters monitor their development, marking specific trees for harvesting to avoid overcrowding, and checking for signs of disease. An important part of a forester's work is managing the risk of bushfire, which in Western Australia may include arranging for periodic back burning to reduce the amount of flammable material on the forest floor. Foresters are also increasingly working with farmers to address issues of land degradation and salinity.

ANZSCO description: Studies, develops and manages forest areas to maintain commercial and recreational uses, conserve flora and fauna, and protect against fire, pests and diseases.
Alternative names: Forest Planner, Forest Scientist (NZ), Forestry Manager, Harvest Planner
Specialisations: Forestry Adviser, Forestry Consultant
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A forester needs:

  • an aptitude for science
  • to be interested in environmental issues
  • to enjoy working outdoors
  • a high level of fitness
  • good planning and organisational skills.
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Working conditions

The bulk of native forests and timber plantations in Western Australia are in the South West and Great Southern regions. However, there are some opportunities for employment as a forester throughout other parts of the State. Foresters spend a lot of time working outdoors, in most weather conditions, though they occasionally work in offices. They will generally be required to drive through forests, over uneven terrain and unsealed roads, often in 4 wheel-drive vehicles. Most foresters start work early in the morning, usually working a standard 40-hour week, although weekend work may occasionally be required.

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Salary details

On average, foresters, classified under agricultural and forestry scientists, can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a forester develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Foresters use a number of specialised tools when surveying trees, including angle gauges (to measure tree density in an area), clinometers (to measure a tree's height) and increment borers (to extract core sample from the trunk to calculate age). They also use infrared, satellite and aerial photography to measure and map the growth of a forest or plantation. Paint guns are used to mark trees for harvesting, property boundaries and the location of underground cables and pipes in preparation for harvesting operations. In some instances, particularly when harvesting is taking place, foresters may be required to wear hard hats, high-visibility clothing and safety boots.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a forester you usually need to complete a degree in forest science and management, or a science degree with a major in forestry.

There are no relevant courses for foresters available in Western Australia. There are suitable courses offered at universities in the Eastern States.

Contact the Institute of Foresters of Australia for relevant degree courses.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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