University of Maryland Extension

Course Information


This course is designed for individuals wishing to increase their understanding of forests and forest management. Specifically, the course targets Maryland forest landowners and other citizens with an interest in the principles and practices of forestry. There are no prerequisites; however, owning or having access to a forest is necessary to complete the framework of the required forest stewardship plan.

The course is divided into six units, with each unit containing several lessons. In the online version, as a review, there is a quiz containing several questions at the end of each lesson.  In the paper version of the course, the questions are at the end of each unit. There are also assignments following most lessons.  Resource information is located in the appendices.

Course Contents

beech leaf Unit 1 Unit 1 - The Forested Landscape

offers an overview of worldwide forest resources, Maryland's forests, a brief history of forestry, and a description of the governmental agencies that regulate and manage forests.

red fern Unit 2 Unit 2 - The Forest and the Trees

covers basic tree physiology, tree identification, forest ecology, and the distribution of the various types of forest cover.

silver maple leaf Unit 3 Unit 3 - Forest Care

discusses the art and science of silviculture, forest health, and protection of the forest from insects, disease, and fire.

white oak leaf Unit 4 Unit 4 - Forest Inventory and Analysis

explains the process of conducting a forest inventory, a stand analysis, and interpreting the data.

green fern leaf Unit 5 Unit 5 - The Management Plan

highlights elements of a forest stewardship plan and the management choices available to the forest landowner. In the course of learning how to prepare a forest stewardship plan, students will develop the framework of a plan for their property.

black cherry leaf Unit 6 Unit 6 - The Business of Forestry

describes the business of forestry—the sale, the harvest, and the manufacture of forest products.

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Most lessons are followed by reading assignments, typically a chapter, a publication, or less than ten pages of reading.  Several lessons require the reading of two or more publications.

There are five lessons which are followed with field assignments that take you into the forest.  The field work requires that the student:

  • make a study collection requiring identification of tree species
  • make bark rubbings and collect leaf samples
  • use a recently cut tree to identify parts of the trunk and determine the tree's age
  • construct a Biltmore stick with the materials provided, and measure tree diameters and heights
  • determine vegetation in overstory and understory and succession stage
  • obtain soil survey and other maps or photos

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Required Texts: (These are included with the course materials.)

A Sand County Almanac
by Aldo Leopold. 1966. New York: Ballantine Books. 295 pages.

American Forests: A History of Resiliency and Recovery
by Douglas W. MacCleery. 1992. Forest History Society, Durham, NC. 58 pages.

The Woodland Steward: A Practical Guide to the Management of Small Private Forests
by James R. Fazio. 1987. Moscow, ID: The Woodland Press. 2nd edition. 212 pages.

Sand County AlmanacAmerican ForestsWoodland Steward

Still more!What Tree Is That?

Also included with the materials is a small tree identification brochure entitled What Tree Is That?

The paper version students keep the notebooks for future reference.  The online students will receive a USB flash drive with the original General Forestry Course text as well as the appendices.  The Discussion Board posts and the interactive exercises will not be included.

Optional Text:

Essentials of Forestry Practice
by C.H. Stoddard and G.M. Stoddard. 1987. New York: John Wiley and Sons. 4th edition. 407 pages.

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Course Requirements:

  • read each lesson in the course text
  • complete the additional readings and assignments
  • answer the questions.  The first set of questions is titled What Is Forestry? located in the Introduction.  For the online version of the course, quizzes are found at the end of each lesson or under Lesson Quizzes in the left column.  For the paper version, quizzes are found at the end of each unit. Submit your responses to the instructor.
  • develop and write the basic framework for a forest stewardship plan
  • The online version has the additional requirement of responding to three questions posted on the discussion board.

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Certificate of Completion:

Upon completing the course successfully, students will be awarded a certificate of completion.General Forestry Course certificate

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