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What am I going to learn about?

The Natural Resources and Forestl Technology program teaches the science of forests and landscapes and the technology required to use and manage the resources within them. Courses cover plants and trees, birds and mammals, insects and diseases and the ecological systems in which they coexist. Soils, rocks and land formations add to an overall understanding of how to manage natural systems. Math, English and computer science are essential basics supporting courses in engineering, measurements and management.

How Forests Work

Our program centres on a core complement of courses that teach students about how plants and trees grow, with an emphasis on identification of BC species and their commercial and indigenous uses. Topic areas such as ecology, wildlife (including birds and mammals), and management of habitat values provide students a strong basis of understanding of the biological components of the forest.

These above ground, organic forest elements are all dependent on the land and its inorganic components. Soils and geological formations, rocks and minerals, and the interplay of water are essential aspects of natural ecosystems.

To ensure that forested ecosystems are sustained for generations to come another critical area of study is forest health. Students learn about tree diseases, insect pests, and wildfire and how to manage and protect stands from these risks.

Economic, environmental and social benefits of forests

Forests provide a wide range of values to many different user groups. Management entails understanding these values and ensuring they are balanced and recognized. These issues are addressed in courses on aboriginal studies, outdoor recreation and tourism. In a unique international field course, students are presented with an opportunity to compare BC forest management with that of other countries, adding global values to the equation.

Forest Management

Forest management is an integrated process that draws in specialized knowledge and skill sets. Forest professionals engage in long term planning and site evaluation to grow and harvest trees. Preparing our students for these activities, we teach courses in silvics (how trees grow in a forest) and dendrology (the anatomy of wood in trees) and integrate this knowledge into silviculture – the management of forested areas, from planting through to free growing forests.

Engineering and Measurements

Forest Operations is the name given to harvest planning and execution. Harvesting trees requires engineering applications to design roads and bridges to gain access to standing timber. This hinges on an understanding of ecosystem sensitivities like habitat, riparian areas, existing or potential insect or disease threats, landscape aesthetics and soil sensitivities.

In preparing management plans (whether for resource extraction or conservation) it's critical to be able to measure and record information about the land and overlapping values. Measurements courses teach students to measure tree heights and volume, sample and count organisms and land features, and record and analyze results. Taking measurements for mapping and reading information from aerial photographs is another important layer of data analysis called geographic information systems (GIS).

Public Ownership and Governance

Most of BC's forests (over 90%) are owned and managed by the provincial government on behalf of all British Columbians, with consideration of aboriginal rights and title. It's therefore important to know the historic and legal basis for natural resource management in the province. Government plays a key role in ensuring, through the use of laws and regulations, that forests are well managed and that values across the land base are sustained for future generations. Legislation and policy upheld by our government has made BC one of the best-managed forest regions in the world.

Bringing it all home

Wrapping the ecological, applied and cultural subject areas together under a business model requires superior communication and supervisory skills to work with colleagues, staff and the public. Leadership, teamwork, conflict resolution and other interactive skills are integrated into various courses in the program and culminate in the final student research project and six-day field excursion.

If this story resonates with you, then consider NRFT - it's TECHnaturally!

For detailed course information, please check our course outlines.