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Ready for the 21st Century, UNH Forestry Program Is Re-Accredited

By Beth Potier, Media Relations
February 10, 2010

Tom Lee, associate professor of forest ecology at UNH (second from left), leads a class through College Woods.
Credit: Lisa Nugent, UNH Photographic Services.

UNH’s bachelor of science in forestry degree program has received a 10-year renewal of its accreditation from the Society of American Foresters (SAF), making the undergraduate program one of just three in New England and only about 50 in the nation to carry such an accreditation. Forestry is a professional degree, and accreditation ensures that forestry students are licensed upon graduation.

 “The power of earning an accredited degree is the credibility students have when they graduate,” says Theodore Howard, professor of forestry and program coordinator. UNH’s forestry program has been accredited since 1959; the program and its curriculum undergo external review at regular intervals as part of the process.

UNH’s forestry program embraces interdisciplinary issues like climate change, biodiversity and sustainability and is strongly connected to other natural resources degree programs at UNH, an approach which, says Howard, was not well understood by accreditors in earlier reviews. With this recent round of accreditation, completed late fall of 2009, the program’s holistic view of forestry stood out as an advantage.

In addition to praising the interdisciplinary structure of the program, the SAF noted that “the forestry faculty is considered a premiere unit at UNH based on their reputation and achievements in all areas (teaching, research, and service).”

“With our campus’s emphasis on sustainability, our forestry program is critical for educating professionals to manage the extensive forest resources of New Hampshire, New England, and the nation, providing society with important ecological and economic values,” says President Mark Huddleston.

“Today’s forestry industry is different, but it hasn’t gone away,” says professor of forest biometrics and management Mark Ducey, noting that the chainsaws-and-flannel shirts stereotype is outdated. The past decades have seen a shift away from production forestry – “it used to be all about board-feet, board-feet, board-feet,” Ducey says, -- but it has shifted towards applications like production of biomass for energy, urban forestry, and the sustainable management of forests for biodiversity, environmental protection and recreation.

“We expect forests to do it all, and that’s why we expect foresters to do it all,” says Ducey.

In addition to understanding trees and how and why they grow, students in UNH’s forestry program study soil, water and wildlife; biometrics, economics and policy; and remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS). Nearly 70 percent of forestry courses have field components, and students take advantage of the 250-acre College Woods adjacent to campus as well as the university’s 600-plus acres of additional woodland holdings in Durham.

The forestry program’s new curriculum allows for scheduling flexibility to let students participate in study abroad, particularly in EcoQuest, UNH’s multidisciplinary, research-oriented field study program in New Zealand. Ducey notes that forestry is an ideal career for those with a travel bug: “There are forests most everywhere in the world, and you get to work in places where other people take their vacations,” says Ducey.

For more information on UNH’s undergraduate forestry program, go to http://www.forestry.unh.edu/. For information on EcoQuest, go to http://www.ecoquest.unh.edu/. For information on the two-year forest technology program at UNH’s Thompson School of Applied Science, go to http://www.thompsonschool.unh.edu/fort/.

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