Course Overview

Spring Camp is an important milestone in the student’s formal forestry education. During the first 3-years of the BSF, students take courses in the basic sciences, ecology, mensuration, silviculture, forest health, operations, hydrology, recreation and economics. While these individual courses provide the basic knowledge of forestry, they are typically taught in isolation of one another, and collectively, they do not fully prepare the student for integrated forest management. By necessity, most courses are taught in UBC classrooms, however, to truly observe and understand forests we must move the learning environment to the forest. Spring Camp provides this learning environment and it develops the diagnostic and prescriptive skills expected of a professional forester serving a host of clients with diverse values. Spring camp is not a substitute for summer work experience, nor is summer work experience a substitute for Spring Camp. The course acts as a comprehensive examination/competency test that students must pass before entering their final year of the BSF.

The 5 primary objectives of the camp are:

  1. Learning to see – everything about the stand, its structure, its origin, the ecosystem, how it will develop over time and how it fits into the whole forest and the social objectives.
  2. Developing the imagination – Much of the forester’s work is done in the office, and many critical discussions and debates occur away from the field. By exposing students to a large variety of forest types and stand development stages we can help them conjure up the correct images necessary to understand and contribute to these discussions. This also improves the imagination necessary to understand how a particular site relates to others the student has seen and what will it look like if they follow certain management strategies.
  3. Developing essential field skills – With an increasing intake from urban populations, there is a need to ensure that students are comfortable and at home in the woods, and that they conduct themselves safely. There are a large number of measurement and assessment techniques, such as: basic surveying, mensurational skills, plant and animal identification, and special surveys for silviculture, wildlife and aquatic ecology. Students need to learn the efficient application of these procedures, the difficulty of adhering to the correct procedures under adverse conditions, and a sense of the variability of forests.
  4. Realize the limits of our understanding – Students must learn to recognize when they need specialized information or expert help to reach an informed decision. They need to know how to distinguish between field situations in which they are competent to make judgments and situations where critical aspects are beyond their understanding.
  5. Professional Development – Field school provides opportunities to further develop professional skills and conduct. Students must know their professional responsibilities, to whom they are accountable, accept full responsibility for work submitted, and conduct themselves in a professional manner.

On completion of Spring Camp the student will be able to:

  • Describe the stand structure, the ecosystem, and identify stand origin,
  • Describe how a stand will develop over time under a variety of management options,
  • Identify and knowledgably discuss all forest values and how these may change over time,
  • Identify owner/client objectives,
  • Identify forest products, value stands and estimate cash flows,
  • Develop and communicate management alternatives, including the relative strengths, weaknesses and risks,
  • Locate access routes, layout silviculture and logging systems,
  • Confidently defend management and layout decisions before an informed and critical review team,
  • Identify when they are competent to make professional judgments and when they are beyond their professional competency,
  • Communicate economic, social and ecological trade-offs to stakeholders,
  • Identify their professional responsibilities, to whom they are accountable, accept full responsibility for work submitted, and always conduct themselves in a professional manner, and
  • Perform comfortably in teams to develop integrated forest management options.

1.1 Course Overview:

Camp starts with 3 days of instruction and field exercises, followed by 4 days of project work and field examinations. For exercises, students are split into small groups. A brief introduction will be made at each site, followed by the exercise, and finally a discussion of the site and management options. The exercises stress integration, diagnostic and prescriptive skills. The camp is a key checkpoint in the student’s professional education. It’s an opportunity to apply their knowledge from course work on integrated problems, and an opportunity for the faculty to test this comprehensive knowledge in the field.