Urban Forestry Field School - Course Outline



Course Description

This course provides an important milestone in the student’s formal urban forestry education. During the first 3-years of the BUF, students take courses in the basic sciences, urban forestry, design and planning, ecology, mensuration, arboriculture, silviculture, forest health, urban forests and wellbeing, and economics. In order to prepare the student for integrated urban forest planning and management, we must move the learning environment to the actual urban forest, This Field School provides an essential opportunity for students to observe and understand urban forests in different contexts, and to develop the diagnostic and prescriptive skills expected of a professional urban forester serving a host of clients and users with diverse values. The course will act as a comprehensive examination/competency test that students must pass before entering their final year of the BUF program.

Students will spend 6 days in a field setting at the UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest and in the adjacent communities of Maple Ridge and Surrey. Focusing on a range of landscapes from peri-urban forests to city-centre open spaces, students will participate in field trips, practice and demonstrate field skills, and end the week by integrating their knowledge and skills into a group project and presentation.

Course learning objectives

On completion of Spring Camp the student should be able to demonstrate their capability in the following areas:

Ecology

  • Describe the urban forest stand structure, the ecosystem, and site condition, and identify stand origin
  • Describe how the urban forest ecosystem is likely to develop over time under a variety of management options
  • Select tree species and types appropriate to ecosystem and site
  • Select tree species and types appropriate to ecosystem and site
  • Observe evidence of wildlife use
  • Knowledgably discuss tree/greenspace condition, potential or existing health risks and tree hazards, and mitigation options

Arboriculture

  • Demonstrate tree inventory and mensuration skills
  • Demonstrate how to collect data and how to apply smart tools (such as GIS, LiDAR, i-Tree) appropriately in urban forest settings
  • Assess tree benefits and functions based on tree characteristics and context

Integration

  • Identify urban forest values and benefits and how they may change over time and scale
  • Identify and discuss competing land use objectives (socio-cultural, economic, environmental)
  • Understand how different fields and disciplines contribute to urban forest planning and management

Human aspects

  • Identify owner/client/user objectives & needs
  • Integrate health and wellbeing elements into project plans
  • Practise communication techniques involving professional collaboration and public interaction, including:
  • Develop and communicate management alternatives, including the relative strengths, weaknesses and risks, in a way that stakeholders (including local residents who may lack understanding of values of urban forests) can easily understand
  • Develop and communicate management alternatives, including the relative strengths, weaknesses and risks, in a way that stakeholders (including local residents who may lack understanding of values of urban forests) can easily understand
  • Develop communication strategies to involve the public in ongoing urban forest management plans
  • Confidently defend management decisions/conceptual plans before an informed and critical review team
  • Identify when competent to make professional judgments and when one is beyond one’s own professional competency. Students 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.
  • Identify their professional responsibilities, to whom they are accountable, accept full responsibility for work submitted, and always conduct themselves in a professional manner
  • Apply knowledge in the interest of public safety
  • Relate personally with nature
  • Perform comfortably in teams to develop integrated urban forest management options.

Assessment

  • 10% participation/attitude
  • 20% individual field exam
  • 45% group field project/exam
  • 20% group project presentation
  • 5% group peer evaluation and self evaluation