Why study forestry?

This study is concerned with aspects of communication – the sources of information and influences – that led students to choose to study either Forestry or Resource and Environmental Management (REM) at The Australian National University.  It is based on a written survey answered by 119 students in first and second year Forestry classes in 1998. Student responses indicated that a relatively high proportion of the first and second year Forestry students believed they had a better chance of employment with Forestry rather than the more general REM degree. This study was then expanded to include interviews with five key informants to determine if student expectations of employment in the Forestry profession were justified.

The findings reveal that the most frequently-used, first sources of information were The University Course Guide for NSW and the ACT (UAC Guide) followed by word-of-mouth. Important influences upon degree choice were Forestry and management issues, people in the forestry profession, work experience in resource management and a love of the forest/bush or a desire to work outdoors.

Expectations of good job prospects with their degree were an important influence on a quarter of Forestry students.  These expectations were found to be justified in the current economic and political environment although what foresters may do and how they do it is changing.