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Forest Pathologist

Study and combat the diseases that afflict forests.

What does a Forest Pathologist do?

Forests provide many of our basic needs, from toilet paper to the air we breathe. The many uses of trees make them worthy of our respect. As if their natural beauty wasn’t enough!

Sometimes, though, nature is cannibalistic, pairing pathogens (think fungi) with our coveted resource. That’s why Forest Pathologists are there, studying the many diseases that trees can acquire, and keeping forests healthy and strong.

As a Forest Pathologist, you do that by first identifying the source of the disease. This might be a pathogen that was previously dormant, or one that was introduced through a non-native species-say, a tree originating from outside the country. Once you’ve discovered where the disease came from, you identify how it spreads. For example, mold spreads in warm conditions while other diseases catch a ride with the breeze.

Of course, to understand the diseases, a Forest Pathologist must first understand the trees. You know what type they are and what characteristics they share. Is the wood hard or soft? Which species grow fast, with few branches, and which have been around for hundreds of years? With this background, you then study the effect of the disease itself. Does is eat away at the bark? Or does it work its way into the vascular system?

Additionally, you look at the environment of the forest. Is it densely populated, exceedingly wet, or experiencing unusually hot conditions? Any of these factors can create a breeding ground for disease. So your job is to identify causes, find solutions, and put preventative measures in place for the future.