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The Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto has a bleak future due to low enrollment.

The University of Toronto had the first forestry faculty in Canada, and the second in North America when it began in 1907. Over the years, the faculty has awarded over 2,000 Bachelor of Science in Forestry (BScF), 420 Master of Science in Forestry (MScF), 170 Master of Forestry Conservation (MFC), and 130 PhD degrees in Forestry.

In 1996, the faculty cancelled its undergraduate program and continued with its graduate programs. Currently, the faculty has a dozen faculty members and teaches less than 80 graduate students.

In an external review in 2009, those graduate programs were deemed “unassailable”, but since the faculty is not able to attract enough students, it will likely need to join a larger faculty. Restructuring is expected in the fall of 2012.

The low enrollment in Canada’s forestry programs has been steadily getting worse in recent years. In a 2009 survey of 65,000 graduating high school students, just six chose forestry as their preferred discipline.

Many forest faculty are diversifying to offer more environmental, natural resource, and conservation courses. The University of Toronto added a Master of Forest Conservation (MFC) degree alongside its traditional research-based master and doctoral programs after its undergraduate program was cancelled.

Lakehead University has struggled with enrollment in its Forestry courses. In the 90′s, Lakehead’s Faculty of Forestry broadened to attract new students. Their faculty was renamed the ‘Faculty of Forestry and the Forest Environment’ and an Honours Bachelor of Environmental Management (HBEM) program was added. Last April the faculty decided to drop ‘Forestry’ from their name, and are now the ‘Faculty of Natural Resources Management’.

The University of New Brunswick (UNB) program has explored ways to reinvent itself and embraced courses in environmental management. UNB is also offering several undergraduate and graduate GIS courses online for distance education and interested based enrollment.

The University of British Columbia has developed a new bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Conservation and attracts some 600 undergraduates each year to five of its forestry and natural resources related programs.

Read more:
Forestry school faces the axe (The Globe and Mail)
Faculty of Forestry (The University of Toronto)


Extpub | by Dr. Radut