The Global Perspective

How do developments in urban forestry education in Europe relate to developments elsewhere in the world? Urban forestry education is uncommon and fragmented outside Europe. The field is new in most parts of the world, although it has a longer history in its cradle, North America. Some years ago the ISA undertook a first survey of urban forestry education at the world level. The results of this survey are available through the ArbCat database (Wingate et al. 1995). A total of 99 programs were listed, 47 of which were defined as 'urban forestry' and the remaining 52 as arboriculture/landscape management. The limited scope of the database becomes clear when comparing it to the recent European review of urban forestry education: most of the programs listed in the latter are not included in ArbCat; some of these might have been developed after the ArbCat inventory. The database includes a wide range of programs also in terms of academic level, including Diplomas, Associate degrees, Bachelor degrees, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees (see also Miller 2001).

The database clearly indicates that the larger part of activities within urban forestry education have taken place in North America and more specifically the United States, with close to half of the listed programs based there. Several reviews of urban forestry education in the US were carried out during the 1980s and 1990s (e.g., Miller 1994, 2001). One of the most comprehensive has been the study by Hildebrandt et al. (1993). In line with the European findings, it showed a significant growth in urban forestry as an educational discipline when results where compared to the first surveys of relevant education. The profession of urban forestry in the US has its roots in forestry. Graduates of forestry schools were frequently hired because of their biological, quantitative and managerial skills when municipal forestry programs developed throughout the 20th century (Miller 2001). This explains why Hildebrandt et al. (1993) targeted institutions offering forestry education at college or university level. They found that 30 of these schools offered urban forestry education at the time of study, compared to 11 in 1975 and 20 in 1980. Undergraduate curricula in-creased to 25 from 10 in 1975 and 18 in 1980. Graduate curricula had increased from 6 in 1975 to 9 in 1980 and 30 in 1990. Miller noted a further increase in programs up to 2002 (Miller personal communication). In line with this, student enrollment in urban forestry has also shown a clear increase. According to Miller (2001), there are large differences in programs, ranging from involving few students to those with a substantial student body.

Hildebrandt et al. (1993) also studied courses included in the various curricula. They found that forestry and other natural sciences were clearly dominating, in spite of the clear multidisciplinary character of the programs. The attention given to the urban context, e.g., through inclusion of elements of city and regional planning, proved to be minimal. Topics such as communication and social sciences were often covered, but again only as a minor element of the curricula when compared to forestry, biology, horticulture, etc.

One of the well-established urban forestry programs in the USA is that of the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point (see Miller 2001). Since 1975, a BSc in Urban Forestry has been offered and student numbers have shown a steady increase, from 5065 on average to about 120 in 2001. The Urban Forestry program is situated within the 'Forestry' maj or, implying the graduate is both a traditionally trained forester and urban forester. Students take the full range of forestry courses with an additional number of urban forestry courses. Examples of courses taught are urban forestry, amenity forestry, arboriculture, tree structure and function, turf management, recreation, landscape design, public relations and urban trees and shrubs. A small review by Miller indicates that employment opportunities for graduates have been excellent, with many starting at private sector entry-jobs such as employment with commercial arborists, public utilities, nurseries and landscape contractors. There are fewer public sector entry positions, but with a number of years relevant experience, employment in the public sector is possible. Moreover, the rise of state-supported urban forestry programs and the higher focus on urban trees within municipalities, for example, has led to better employment opportunities in the public sector.

Accreditation of urban forestry education is an important topic in the United States. The Society of American Foresters (SAF), for example, certifies forestry schools, but no special accreditation scheme exists as of yet for urban forestry programs. Urban forestry thus becomes accredited only through their affiliation with a general forestry school (Miller 2001).

Developments in urban forestry-related education are evident in other parts of the world. Plans exist, e.g., in Malaysia and New Zealand to set up urban forestry curricula. The interest of the forestry students community in the field can be seen from the involvement of the International Forestry Students Association (IFSA) which has had urban forestry as a main focus of its activities since the early 1990s (Konijnendijk 1995; IFSA 2003).

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

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