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In-Depth Jobs

volume-49, 9 - 15 March, 2019


Careers in Forestry

Vijay Prakash Srivastava

If you ask young people, not many of them are likely to tell that they want to make a career in forestry. In fact a large section  of young population  may not even  be aware that there are courses and career options, available in forestry.

Ecological balance and environment protection  are buzzwords now a days. The world is facing a number of challenges today. One of these is growing imbalances in the environment for which one reason is depleting forest resources and their unreasonable exploitation by mankind. We shouldn't forget that human society exists because forests exist. Many of humanities needs are met by forests. This can be one reason for considering importance of forests. However forests and forestry should be considered valuable for making this earth liveable. On many of the planets there are no traces of life because they lack in forests and other resources (like water) required to survive.

Forests contribute towards shelter, water, livelihood, food items and fuel etc. Forest activities directly and indirectly add to our lives. Fruits, vegetables ,wood are more obvious than many  products and bi-products which are used in medicines , chemicals etc. Forests  work as a habitat  for wildlife which is no less important than life elsewhere.

What is covered in forestry

Study of forestry  focuses upon  expanding forestation, rehabilitation of wastelands,  enhancing forest productivity, efficient utilization of wood and non-wood forest products, development of eco- friendly products and processes and of course conservation of forests and environment.

Topics covered under a forestry course include plantation forestry, social forestry, agro-forestry, ecology, biodiversity , tree improvement, forest hydrology and watershed management, wood science and technology, forest goods and services, forest resource management, seed technology, rangeland and pasture management, economics of forestry system, regional and global climate changes, forest geo informatics, wildlife conservation and ecotourism etc.


Many colleges and universities in the country offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses in forestry by way of B.Sc. (Forestry) and M.Sc. (Forestry) respectively. Most of the agricultural institutes and universities are offering these courses. To do B.Sc. (Forestry) , students  should've completed plus two with science subjects viz. Physics, Chemistry and Biology.  At few institutes candidates may choose forestry as one of the subjects  at graduation level.

For a master's degree in forestry, graduates  in Science with subjects of  Physics, Chemistry and Biology or  Agriculture / Horticulture/ Forestry  are considered eligible.

M.Sc. (Forestry) course is conducted at the following institutes. Few of these offer M.Sc. (Horticulture) having close connection to forestry.

Awadhesh Pratap Singh University, Rewa

Navsari Agricultural University, Gujarat

Chaudhari Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar

Dr Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth, Akola

Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University, Srinagar,  Uttarakhand

Orissa University of Agriculture & Technology, Bhubaneswar

Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University ,Raipur

Bastar University, Jagdalpur, Chattishgarh

Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Science & Technology, Jammu/Srinagar Campus

Krishi Vidyapith, Dapoli, Maharashtra

Ganga Kaveri Institute of Science & Management, Bengaluru

Guru Ghasidas University, Bilaspur

Kumaun University, Nainital

Mizoram University , Aizwal

Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana

College of Horticulture & Forestry, Jhalawar, Rajasthan

Sarguja University ,Ambikapur, Chattishgarh

Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Agra

Tamilnadu Agricultural University , Coimbatore

University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad

Uttar Banga Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya Cooch Behar

North Eastern Regional Institute of Science & Technology ,Nirjuli, Arunanchal Pradesh

Dr. Yashwant Singh Parmar University of Horticulture & Forestry, Solan, Himachal Pradesh

College of Horticulture & Forestry, Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh

College of Forestry, Velaanikkara, Kerala

College of Horticulture & Forestry, Pasighat, Arunanchal Pradesh

Uttarakhand University of Horticulture & Forestry, Bharsar, Pauri Garwhal

The above is only an indicative list. Definitely there are more colleges and universities in India  offering courses in forestry/allied subjects.

Most of the institutes/ universities have a general course in  forestry. However some of these offer courses with specialization in particular branches in forestry. For example some of the areas of specialization are  agroforestry , environment management, forest genetic resources, medicinal  & aromatic plants, wood science & technology, watershed management, silviculture, sustainable development, forest biology & tree improvement, forest products & utilization  etc.

While some universities take candidates  selected through the entrance examination conducted by Indian Council for Agricultural Research, others have their own entrance examination/selection process details of which can be checked with respective websites.

Forestry is taught at many overseas institutions also such as University of Forestry, Sofia , Bulgaria; Beijing Forestry University, China; Mosco State Forest University, Yale School of Forestry & Environment Studies, Forestry University of British Columbia and others.

Although M.Sc. -Forestry course  covers inputs in management to a certain extent, a full-fledged managerial course in Forest Management can also be pursued. Indian Institute of Forest Management  at Bhopal is  a very well-known for its Postgraduate Diploma in Forest Management equivalent to MBA. It has also launched Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainability Management. The institute is recognised as research centre for pursuing doctoral research of the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun. Some of the organizations  which have  recruited candidates from this reputed institute  are- The Nature Conservancy, Water Aid, World Wildlife Fund, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Grameen Foundation India The Energy and Research Institute, Spandana Sphoorty Financial Corporation, Swades Foundation, Technoserve, Periyaar Tiger Reserve, Microsave, Jaipur Rugs, Jeevikaa Livelihoods Support Organization, etc.

Those  holding a postgraduate qualification in management with specialization in Agri -Business, Rural Management, Rural Development may also find managerial careers in  a forestry related enterprise.

Jobs & Careers

There are different routes to approach forestry as a career. The following description  about different opportunities available may be of help.

Forest Guard: To become a forest guard one should have passed 10+2. Recruitments are made at state level. For this position no special qualification in forestry or related subjects is required. Usually vacancies announced are in large numbers but so is the number of candidates as benchmark qualification is not high.

Forest Range Officers: Every state and union territory has requirements of forest range officers/rangers for which they advertise from time to time. For this position also, a formal qualification in forestry is not mandatory and generally graduates from agricultural/ science and technological  background are considered eligible. However other things being equal, those with a B.Sc. (Forestry) degree may have some advantage. Selection is usually through a written test  followed by interview. Only if you pass the written test, you'll be called for interview. After selection extensive training is offered. To fulfil the  training needs of forest range officers and other employees of state forest departments, good infrastructure has been created. Many states have their own training establishments for the purpose, such as

Forest Training Institute, Dharwad, Karnataka

Telangana State Forest Academy, Hyderabad

Gujarat Forest Rangers College, Rajpipla

Central Forest Rangers College, Chandrapur

Uttarakhand Forestry Training  Academy, Haldwani

Tamilnadu Forest Academy, Coimbatore

Forest Training Institute, Jaipur

Forest Training Institute and Rangers' College, Sunder Nagar Himachal Pradesh

Other than induction training, such institutes organize  refresher  and performance development programmes also.

Indian Forest Service: Most of us are aware  about  the Civil Services examination conducted annually  by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and the prestige associated with being finally selected in the process. UPSC also conducts other All India Services Examinations of which one is  Indian Forest Service (constituted in 1966) examin-ation conducted every year. As every district in the country has a district magistrate, district/ divisional forest officers are also appointed in districts and divisions. Indian Forest Service officers are selected  for filling up these positions and may reach the positions of deputy conservator of forests, conservator of forests, Chief Conservator of forests, Principal Chief Conservator of forests.

To appear in Indian Forest Service examination you should have taken at least one of the following subjects in  your graduation-Physics, Chemistry , Zoology, Botany, Mathematics, Statistics, Geology, Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science. Graduates in Agriculture, Forestry or Engineering are also considered eligible.

The written examination is divided into two parts. The preliminary examination is conducted with Civil Services (preliminary) examination which has objective type questions. Those declared  successful in the preliminary examination have to apply for Indian Forest Service (Main) examination. The number of candidates admitted to main examination will be 12 to 13 times of the vacancies.

The preliminary examination  consists of 2 papers. The first paper will have questions related to current events of national and international importance, Indian and world history/geography, economic and social development, polity and governance, environment, climate change and general science. In paper II, candidate's communication skills, logical reasoning, mathematical/ analytical ability, problem solving and decision making and  data interpretation skills  are tested.

The main examination will have 4 papers of which  2 are common and 2 elective. Common papers will be on General English and General Knowledge. Elective papers are prescribed to assess subject knowledge in the chosen subject like Botany, Zoology, Chemistry, Engineering etc.

Based on their position in merit list, candidates in a certain ratio of available vacancies, are called for personal interview. Those finally selected are allocated cadre of a particular state/union territory, undergo  a long duration induction  training at  Forest Research Institute, Dehradun which may followed by on the job training and then get their regular posting mostly as Divisional Forest Officer in a forest division.

Academics: For an academic career you may join an agricultural university/college where forestry and related subjects are taught. For the purpose you have to meet the requirements of Universities Grants Commission.

Research: There is ample scope of research in various disciplines of forestry. Research can be pursued at universities, forestry institutes and specialised research agencies established by government bodies. Research can be followed after postgraduation in forestry and allied subjects. Some of the research institutes are as follows-

Arid Forest Research Institute, Jodhpur

Institute of Woods Science & Technology, Bengaluru

Himalayan Forest Research Institute, Shimla

Institute  of Forest Productivity, Ranchi

Tropical Forest Research Institute, Jabalpur

Institute of Forest Genetics & Tree Breeding, Coimbatore

Advanced Research Centre for Bamboo & Rattans, Aizwal

Centre for Social Forestry & Ecological Rehabilitation, Allahabad

Forest Research Centre, Hyderabad

Centre for Forestry Resources & Human Resource Development, Chhindwada

Rain Forest Research Institute, Jorhat

Indian Plywood Training and Research Institute, Bengaluru

International organiz-ations: Forestry is a globally important issue and as such offers international career opport-unities also. Those interested may explore opportunities to work with organisations like-Food & Agricultural Organiz-ation (FAO),The International Tropical Timber Organization, Centre for International Forestry Research, Indonesia, Inter-national Union for Conservation of Nature, Switzerland, Bioversity, Italy; International Union of  Forest Research Organizations, Austria; World Agroforestry Centre, Kenya and many others.

You can see  forestry offers all forms of career opport-unities-scientific, administr-ative, academic and  managerial. The other way to look at forestry careers may be in terms of the environmental, developmental and conservational needs.  Of course requirements and way of approaching these careers may differ, as has been explained in this article.

Wildlife Sanctuaries, Paper manufacturing companies, microfinance organizations, conservation bodies, packed food manufacturing companies, wood product companies, pharmaceutical companies in public and private sector offer job opportunities to those educated in forestry.

Requirements for success

A career in forestry can be both physically and mentally demanding, depending on the work and the role you've to play. You should, in general, be physically fit with love for  nature and outdoors. You've to  be curious with an aptitude for conservation of natural resources. Those desirous of making an academic career will do well to become learning and research oriented.

(The author is a career counsellor based in Mumbai Email: v2j25@yahoo.in)

Views expressed are personal.

(Images Courtesy : Google)