Although the term urban forestry has been tossed around since the early 1960s when a Canadian university professor first coined the phrase, it has only been in the last few years that the concept became a growing career trend.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that by 2030, the overall employment of conservation scientists and foresters will have grown by seven per cent, resulting in approximately 4,000 job openings, for those skilled in these disciplines, being generated annually. Urban forestry currently employs an estimated 0.5 million people in the U.S. according to a recent study.
Here in Canada the job trend projection is similar, says University of British Columbia Faculty of Forestry lecturer Sara Barron.
“With more and more municipalities throughout Canada integrating urban forest strategies, the need for more urban foresters has been steadily growing,’ says Barron. “We are seeing increasing job postings that ask specifically for urban forestry skills and education.”
A relatively new addition, UBC Forestry’s Urban Forestry program was first introduced in 2015. The program initially offered an undergraduate degree in urban forestry but with growing interest and increased demand from the university’s professional networks, the Master of Urban Forestry Leadership (MUFL) graduate program was introduced in 2021.
The first of its kind in both Canada and internationally, the MUFL program provides education and training in urban forestry planning and management from a multi-discipline approach, and with a focus on leadership. The university’s forestry faculty, school of business and school of public policy and affairs are all involved with the program’s 14-month online delivery.
“[One] unique aspect of this program is the teaching staff and guest speakers introduced throughout. Being able to speak to world leaders in urban forestry and ask them specific questions about their disciplines has been an amazing learning experience,” Mark McDonald, a student in the inaugural MUFL cohort says. “I have particularly enjoyed the breadth and mixture of courses which have challenged my assumptions around urban forestry about expanded my options for employment considerably,” adds student Heather Johnstone, who has enjoyed the program thoroughly despite attending remotely from Perth, Australia.
A world-renowned award-winning researcher, educator and advisor, program director Dr. Cecil Konijnendijk has seen firsthand the growing need for urban forest professionals around the world. In addition to his role with UBC Forestry, Konijnendijk co-operates the Nature-Based Solutions Institute (NBSI), an international organization. Since starting the institute approximately two years ago, Konijnendijk reports the number of service requests from across the world, which range from policy advice to professional training, have grown rapidly.
“With climate change being what it is and all of the environmental issues resulting from that, the NBSI has experienced tremendous growth in the short time it has been in existence. We only expect that demand to continue.”
To learn more about the MUFL program visit forestry.ubc.ca/mufl
Any one interested in enrolling in the MUFL program, should apply here.