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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Forestry Technologists and Technicians(2223)

Forestry technologists and technicians may work independently or perform technical and supervisory functions in support of forestry research, forest management, forest harvesting, forest resource conservation and environmental protection. They are employed by the forest industry sector, provincial and federal governments, consulting firms, and other industries and institutions or they may be self-employed.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read brief e-mail from clients, supervisors and co-workers. For example, technologists may read messages from clients about plans to build access routes or requests for information about services offered by their companies from potential clients. (1)
  • Read labels on pesticides and herbicides. For example, they check herbicide labels for directions on how to mix an application solution. (2)
  • Read newspaper and magazine articles to learn what is happening in their areas and identify developments which may affect their work. For example, they may read newspaper articles about new sawmills in their areas since additional logging will put further demands on forests they manage. (2)
  • Read a variety of pamphlets and guides published by government agencies and industry suppliers. They need to read about new regulations and new products so that they can pass information on to clients. (2)
  • Read accident reports to learn about the circumstances of mishaps. They analyze these accounts for common themes and use the information to provide better instructions to crews. (2)
  • Read forestry practices and reference manuals to upgrade knowledge and learn about new forestry management techniques. For example, they read reference manuals for Canadian trees to learn about the optimal growing conditions, water requirements and companion plants for unfamiliar species. They read forestry practice manuals for sampling techniques, measurement parameters and wood classifications. They read procedures for recording field observations in scaling manuals. (3)
  • Read notes from town hall meetings. For example, they may review personal notes and meeting minutes summarising perspectives of stakeholders while preparing harvesting plans. They identify relevant concerns such as the impact of tree harvesting on trapping lines or endangered wildlife populations. (3)
  • May read professional journals to learn about new forestry practices, trends and innovations in their area of work. For example, they may read an article describing successful new approaches to renaturalize former agricultural lands. (4)
  • Read a variety of federal, provincial and municipal acts, regulations and by-laws. For example, they read acts and regulations such as the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, the Forests Act, the Wildlife Habitat Act and the Watercourses Protection Regulations. They may integrate information from various sections of the regulations, so that they can advise clients how to proceed when they are constructing roads or carrying out silviculture operations. When working on forest management plans, they review legislation to ensure that they correctly interpret and abide by all rules and regulations. (4)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Get quantities, seed purity percentages, species names, assigned codes and mixture rates from a variety of labels including those attached to trees, bags of seed and herbicide and pesticide containers. (1)
  • Observe markings and signs on trees indicating which ones to cut when thinning or to remove when constructing access roads. (1)
  • Obtain information from a variety of tables. For example, they scan reference tables published by natural resources ministries to determine the appropriate stocking levels for particular tree species, read tables that indicate class, category, height and quality of tree stands in parcels of forest land and read tables containing the common names, nutrient analyses and application methods for common fertilizers. (2)
  • Scan completed forms for silviculture and forestry data. For example, they review data such as tree diameters, population distributions and wood utilization on plantation and reforestation evaluation forms (2)
  • Enter scheduling, budgeting, operations and field data into tables. For example, they may enter diameters, types, number and utilization of trees into data collection tables. (2)
  • Complete a variety of reporting, survey and administrative forms. For example, they record measurements, stem counts, species dimensions, terrain quality and type, and class and quality of trees when collecting field data. They may also complete safety inspection checklists when conducting site visits. Those working in companies registered by the International Organization for Standardization complete numerous lengthy audit forms. (3)
  • Take information from maps and aerial photographs when planning harvesting operations. For example, they may use three-dimensional scopes to interpret photographs of tree stands taken over fifty-year periods to determine logging histories and to identify boundary changes. They may also use topographical maps in conjunction with compass and global positioning systems readings to become familiar with the relief of the land and to map access roads. (4)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write brief notes about conversations, meetings, resource exploitation activities, wildlife observations, topographical features, uncommon plant species and changes to landscape since previous visits in notebooks, logs and daily diaries. (1)
  • Write short e-mail and letters to clients, employees, colleagues and supervisors to request information, respond to questions, summarize discussions and confirm decisions. (2)
  • Write comments, explanations and instructions on entry forms. For example, they may write several paragraphs describing observations and summaries on pre-commercial thinning forms. (2)
  • Write notices and bulletins for co-workers, contractors and clients. For example, they may write notices to inform employees of changes to environmental legislation. They often try to make the legal information easier to understand by rewriting in plain language. (3)
  • May write progress reports for management, company shareholders and compliance committee members. In operational reports, they describe the status of projects, detailing such things as costs, benefits and analyzing newly-implemented procedures. In compliance reports, they describe each stage of investigations, difficulties encountered and recommendations for continued investigation. (4)
  • May write lengthy proposals for large-scale tree plantings. These proposals detail strategic plans and are intended to persuade stakeholders to support the projects or programs suggested. (4)
  • May write forestry management plans which describe historical and current land use and propose objectives for future use. The plans can be up to twenty pages in length and are forwarded to government departments for review and approval. They supplement the text with maps, wildlife observations and measurement data. (4)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Money Math
  • Purchase supplies and equipment using credit cards and purchase orders. (1)
  • Write sales contracts for forest management plans. They calculate the cost of forestry technicians and labourers at an hourly rate, and charges for travel using a per kilometre rate. They add equipment fees, calculate discounts and subtract any federal government financial assistance credits which may apply. Finally, they calculate provincial and federal taxes on the totals. (4)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Determine work crew schedules. For example, they may determine short and long-term schedules for crews of up to twenty seasonal employees for a seven-month planting season by taking into consideration the work preferences of individuals, vacations and statutory holidays. (2)
  • Establish tree planting budgets for conservation authorities. They determine the number of trees required and calculate associated site preparation, planting and herbicide costs. (3)
  • Establish forest assessment and management schedules. Typically, schedules are based on a five-year rotation; however, they set yearly schedules to ensure that all forests are assessed within the five-year period. Those working in nursery and orchard operations may schedule various aspects of tree breeding and crop operations, taking into consideration the number of employees available and their companies' goals and objectives. (3)
  • Prepare multi-year business plans. For example, they prepare five-year forest harvesting and management plans with yearly breakdowns for amounts to be harvested, numbers of work crews necessary, machinery and material costs, and capital costs for infrastructure such as bridges. Yearly budgets may need to be adjusted to take into consideration special projects or amendments to provincial rules and regulations. (4)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Calculate areas of forest plots in square metres and hectares. (2)
  • Use industry-specific instruments to take measurements. For example, they use radius tapes, Biltmore sticks and callipers to measure tree heights and diameters during cruises. They use callipers to take precise measurements of tree heights, root collar diameters and the shoot and root lengths of seedlings to within one thousandth of a millimetre. (3)
  • Take measurements using survey equipment. For example, they use global positioning systems to calculate areas and record survey points, measuring tapes and transits to measure length and width of access roads and clinometers to calculate the slopes of washed out riverbanks. (3)
Data Analysis Math
  • Compare data from sampling and testing to standards to identify whether they are within acceptable limits. For example, they compare individual and average stump heights from site audits with the provincial standards to ensure that stump heights do not exceed the maximum allowable. (2)
  • Analyze data collected over a period of time and draw conclusions. For example, they analyze and interpret aerial photographs and forestry maps taken over ten year spans to study the effects of logging on physical features, flora and fauna. They determine regeneration rates by examining new growth identified through forest assessments and predict when shrubs and herbaceous plants will crowd out seedlings. (3)
  • Analyze survey results to determine absolute population numbers, percentages of each species and the rates at which species occur. For example, they extrapolate gypsy moth survey results to determine the total numbers present per hectare, calculate trees per hectare rates for forest populations or determine the percentage of particular species in woodlots or cutting areas. (4)
Numerical Estimation
  • Make frequent small estimations when collecting field data. For example, they estimate the age of stunted trees by considering the effects of factors such as weather and disease. They estimate the percentage of crown closure in a tree stand by observing how much light filters through. They estimate the number of diseased or injured trees which need to be harvested or estimate the grade of a slope using visual indicators. (1)
  • Estimate the value of wood by considering the volume, species, quality and current market value. (2)
  • Estimate the yield possibilities for specific forest leases, taking into account forested area, stand age and quality. (3)
  • Estimate the time needed to clear woodlots, considering numbers of experienced workers available and the terrain where the operations will take place. (3)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Co-ordinate work and share information with co-workers and supervisors. For example, they discuss daily or weekly work plans with supervisors and radio other forestry technologists to confirm that all required equipment has been taken to work sites. (1)
  • Request services or supplies. For example, they contact suppliers to arrange for the repair of broken machinery. They must be clear and concise, as they frequently need to provide directions to sites that are unfamiliar to suppliers and contractors. (2)
  • Give instructions to employees they supervise and receive progress updates. For example, when conducting site visits they meet with logging crew supervisors to point out environmental factors they should consider before starting harvesting operations. (2)
  • Discuss joint work projects with colleagues at other companies and government agencies to get confirmation, updates and information about harvesting and planting operations. (3)
  • May inform and educate private landowners about ways to protect wildlife and fish habitat, promote forest regeneration and preserve the landscape. For example, they may explain best logging practices to woodlot owners. They discuss best practices in cutting, delimbing, felling, slashing and hauling methods. (3)
  • May reassure members of the public who express concerns and misgivings about forestry practices, sometimes with hostility. For example, they may emphasize in their discussions with conservationists how professional harvesting helps maintain the forest and reassure them that wildlife and bodies of water will be protected during harvesting operations. (3)
  • Meet with supervisors to discuss harvesting plans and to receive guidance. For example, they meet with forest engineers to discuss possible expansions of forest-harvesting plans for particular areas. They discuss the potential disruption to flora and fauna and ways to protect the environment. (3)
  • May deliver training sessions and make presentations. For example, they may run workshops for conservation authority representatives on pest invasions in local forests or give presentations to small groups of industry representatives to explain forest management plans for specific areas. (3)
  • May mediate disputes between workers. They may calm down the employees, ask for clarifications and use rephrasing techniques to confirm their understanding of the conflict. They must use tact and assertiveness to ensure that certain protocols are respected and that problematic situations do not get out of hand. (3)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • Face power failures and equipment breakdowns. For example, technicians in nurseries and tree farms may find out that power failure or equipment malfunction have knocked out ventilation or heating systems for delicate tree seedlings. Speed is essential, and they may have less than half an hour to repair the systems or to start emergency generators. Failure to do so will quickly result in plants freezing in the winter or overheating in the summer. (2)
  • Find that employees do not show up for work. When labourers miss work, production is reduced. To keep production high, forestry technicians who supervise work crews keep lists of eligible workers that they can call in to work on short notice. (2)
  • Find that clients and the public object to proposed harvesting operations. For example, residents may oppose plans to harvest wood in a particular area because it will destroy their trap lines. Forestry technologists and technicians listen to the residents' concerns and revise their harvesting plans to incorporate their suggestions. (2)
  • Find that logging operations have caused damage to the environment. For example, during rainy weather, they discover that road-building operations have caused riverbanks to collapse. They work with other professionals to document the extent of the damage and determine appropriate measures to mitigate detrimental effects such as the destruction of spawning grounds. They recommend changes to logging practices to prevent further incidents. (3)
  • Find that clients and logging companies are not complying with forestry regulations. For example, during an annual audit, a technologist discovers that a landowner has not met the conditions of the forest management plan. They discuss the nature of the non-compliance with the landowners and suggest ways to rectify it. If the owner is unwilling to meet the conditions, the forestry technologist may contact a higher authority such as the forestry association. (3)
  • Find that proposed access routes are not feasible. For example, they may be notified that proposed roads could not be completed as planned because work crews encountered steep, rocky hills. They study aerial photographs, revisit sites and survey them by conducting subsequent flyovers and ground patrols. Using the new information, they design alternate approaches. (3)
  • Find that employees do not follow procedures or explicit instructions. For example, they may discover that planters are not placing seedlings according to standards and regulations. They talk to planting crew supervisors to advise them of the deficiencies and to direct them to speak to their crews. Failure to plant properly can result in heavy fines being levied by government regulating agencies. (3)
Decision Making
  • Decide where to purchase supplies, equipment and nursery stock. For example, forestry technicians decide where to buy seeds, seedlings and rootstock by considering previous experience with suppliers, the quality of the stock, transportation costs and prices. (2)
  • Decide to modify operational procedures or systems. For example, forestry technologists and technicians in nurseries may decide to change pesticide application methods after researching various methods and comparing the safety and effectiveness of each. (2)
  • Make decisions about silviculture activities. For example, they may decide how to prepare sites for harvesting and whether to thin diseased trees. (3)
  • Make tree-breeding decisions. For example, technologists working in tree nurseries and seed orchards decide which trees to use as breeding stock to develop strains that have particular genetic qualities. (3)
  • Make access road planning decisions. For example, they decide efficient routes to use to access woodlots and forest plots. They examine maps and aerial photographs, survey the areas by foot and consider the terrain before deciding where to build the most cost-effective routes. (3)
  • May decide to stop work being done by logging companies and contractors. For example, if they observe contractors carrying out illegal logging, they may decide to issue 'stop work' orders and seize all logs under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act. They consider whether the loggers responsible for the illegal logging have been in violation before and whether they have damaged the habitat. They have to balance the need to maintain good relations with the public and loggers against the need to protect forest lands from illegal and harmful practices. (4)
Critical Thinking
  • Judge the health, production potential and quality of trees in sections of forest. They examine aerial photographs, conduct field measurements and determine the age of the trees. They use their expert knowledge of silviculture to gather information about tree types, survey tree populations and to assess forest health. (2)
  • Evaluate the severity of damage done by silviculture operations. They assess the extent of injuries such as scraped bark, broken branches and root damages caused by careless loggers. They also consider the length and depth of skid trails left by machinery. This information is then used to complete damage assessments and assign performance scores to logging companies. (3)
Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

The priorities of forestry technologists and technicians are determined by the goals and objectives of their organizations. Within the framework of seasonal routines, they work independently and are free to plan and organize their tasks to meet project deadlines and goals. Those working with regional conservation authorities and paper companies may be assigned to the management of particular parcels of land and are responsible for creating, implementing and monitoring forest management plans. Their work plans are subject to frequent revisions due to weather changes, equipment breakdowns, pest and disease outbreaks or changes in legislation. (3)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Forestry technologists and technicians plan the work schedules of planting and harvesting crews. Those who work on one to five-year forest management plans play a significant role in strategic and operational planning for their organizations.

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember tree species codes and symbols when recording data.
  • Remember ecologically important locations such as spawning sites.
  • Remember the lay of the land when designing access roads.
  • Remember new provincial and federal acts and regulations that govern their work.
Finding Information
  • Find acts and regulations on government websites. (2)
  • Find information about new technologies, forestry practices, management strategies, environmental regulations and products in technical journals, research papers and related websites. (2)
  • Find information needed for forestry research. They search for specific topics in textbooks, forestry journals, management reports, magazines and research notes. (2)
  • Find information about land ownership and cutting rights using forestry maps, historical maps and records at Land Title offices. (2)
  • May question landowners, hunters, contractors and other witnesses during investigations of illegal activities in the woods. They also make personal observations on relevant data, such as number of logs, type of equipment present and state of the terrain, during on-site visits to corroborate or invalidate witness statements. (4)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • Use communications software. For example, they exchange e-mail with attachments and select recipient names from e-mail address books or lists. (2)
  • Use the internet. For example, they use Internet browsers like Netscape and search engines like Google and Yahoo to conduct multiple searches for needed forestry management information. They bookmark commonly-used industry and government websites. (2)
  • Use word processing. For example, they write and format letters, annual reports and forestry management plans. They use a full range of word processing and formatting functions to produce longer documents which contain tables of contents, annexes, indices and bibliographies. Forestry technologists and technicians may import tables and graphics from other applications. (3)
  • Use graphics software. For example, they use presentation software such as PowerPoint to create presentations for public meetings. They use Adobe Photoshop or Image Expert to manipulate digital images from cameras, scanners or the Internet. (3)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, they use spreadsheet software like Excel to create a variety of spreadsheets. They input formulas to perform calculations and analyze data. They may produce graphs to illustrate data in monthly and annual reports or at public presentations. (3)
  • Use databases. For example, they use database software such as Access to maintain records on private landowners. They enter and retrieve information from specialized forest management databases like Sylva II or the Natural Resources and Value Information System database. They also consult and extract information from a variety of map databases and import maps into other software applications to create their own detailed property maps. (3)
  • May use statistical analysis software. For example, a technologist may enter values from an audit plot into analysis software such as Raster to determine variability between plots or to learn whether a particular plot is viable for auditing purposes. (3)
  • Use other computer and software applications. For example, they use mapping software such as Arcview and global positioning systems to create maps for forest management plans. They import scanned photographs and maps from commercial databases and then create new layers of information on them. They draw topographical features such as buildings and newly-constructed access roads. They indicate boundaries, cutovers and proposed harvesting areas. (3)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Depending on the work context, forestry technologists and technicians may work alone, with a partner or as a member of a forest management team. Most work as members of larger multidisciplinary teams comprising scientists, forestry engineers, colleagues from government departments and managers. They work alone or with a partner when doing preliminary work such as collecting data, conducting field surveys and audits, mapping out properties and writing submissions to government agencies.

Continuous Learning

Forestry technologists and technicians learn on the job, from their co-workers and supervisors and by reading reference manuals, trade publications, research papers and information available on government and industry websites. They also take short courses to learn about new technologies such as geographic information, mapping and global positioning systems. They attend conferences and seminars to learn about topics such as the risks of pest infestations, new methods of collecting and analyzing data and ongoing government forestry initiatives. Some forestry technologists and technicians are required to maintain and upgrade certification in tree-marking. They also take job-specific safety and environmental protection training.

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