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Forest Economist

Put a dollar value on forests.

What does a Forest Economist do?

Two people – a camper and a Logger – look at a forest. The camper sees a precious wilderness for his children to play in. The Logger sees a field of profits.

Should a company harvest the trees or keep the area pristine? It’s an endless debate, with no easy answers. A Forest Economist attempts to clear up the issue by providing studies about the value of the land and timber products over time.

When you’re a Forest Economist, the company you work for drives the studies you perform. If you’re a Forest Economist working for a conservation organization, you perform studies to determine how useful the land is to hikers, campers, and animals. If you work for a logging company, you perform studies to determine how much wood products are predicted to move up or down in value.

You may call people and ask them to answer questions, or you may ask them to fill out questionnaires. Often, you supplement this information with other sorts of data. You might look at prices over time, availability of campsites, cost of production, profit margins, or consumer demand. The best reports you write contain many sources of data.

In your work, you build mathematical models to predict future value. To make your reports easier for non- Economists to understand, you provide colorful charts and graphs. Sprinkling in photos is also an excellent way to keep readers engaged.

When your report is complete, you present it to your bosses, and you give advice on how the forest should be managed. While you’re not surprised if the company doesn’t follow your advice, you know your voice is just one of many in the conversation, and you don’t take it personally.