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Assessment of Geographic Information System (GIS) Skills Employed by Graduates from Three Forestry Programs in the United States

Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
Department of Forestry, College of Forest Resources, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA
Department of Forest Engineering, Resources and Management, College of Forestry, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Dave Verbyla and Timothy A. Martin
Forests 2016, 7(12), 304;
Received: 22 September 2016 / Revised: 25 November 2016 / Accepted: 29 November 2016 / Published: 1 December 2016
PDF [1285 KB, uploaded 1 December 2016]


This research evaluates the current use of geographic information systems (GIS) by forestry program graduates employed in the United States who graduated from university in the past five years. The purpose was to understand what geospatial processes and databases are typically used by field foresters. A survey was designed and sent to recent forestry graduates from Mississippi State University, Oregon State University, and the University of Georgia, with 30% of those surveyed choosing to participate. The majority of forestry graduates surveyed use GIS at least once a week, and the most frequently employed tasks included editing tabular data, adjusting polygon boundaries, buffering and splitting polygons, and querying for spatial and tabular information. Very few overlay or advance spatial analysis tools were noted as used in regular work efforts. Most respondents use digital aerial photographs as reference, along with satellite images. LiDAR is increasingly being used by these foresters, but to a lesser extent. ArcMap and Google Earth were noted as the most commonly used software packages. Most foresters rely on an organization’s technical support staff for assistance. The study results can be used as a guide for academic programs in their efforts to provide timely and effective knowledge on geospatial topics to forestry undergraduate students. View Full-Text
Keywords: geospatial technologies; professional skills; education; survey; GIS; forestry geospatial technologies; professional skills; education; survey; GIS; forestry

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Merry, K.; Bettinger, P.; Grebner, D.L.; Boston, K.; Siry, J. Assessment of Geographic Information System (GIS) Skills Employed by Graduates from Three Forestry Programs in the United States. Forests 2016, 7, 304.

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