University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Vision for Department of Forestry


The Department of Forestry will be widely recognized for improving the lives of people and for improving the condition of human and biotic communities through learning, discovery, and outreach activities relating to forests and natural resources.


Research, teaching, and extension programs of the Department of Forestry will effectively enhance sustainable economic, ecological, and social benefits of forests and related natural resources in Kentucky and beyond. Our programs will elevate the quality of life by:

The University of Kentucky Department of Forestry is entering a progressive and innovative era in response to changing scientific and human dimensions that are broadening and redefining the discipline of forestry and impacting many other natural resource sciences. The College of Agriculture's new administrative team is actively supporting the expansion of natural resource programs and strengthening of the Department of Forestry. In response to these opportunities, the Department has developed a new vision of our land grant mission to enhance a strong core program in forestry as well as to address a broader range of environmental and natural resource issues.

Since 1972, the Department has developed strong outreach and undergraduate education programs and now aspires to new excellence in research and graduate education. Areas of emphasis and developing strength include conservation biology, ecosystem ecology, forest utilization and management, restoration ecology, surface mine reclamation, watershed studies, and wildlife ecology.

The Department and College strive to promote the integration of research, instruction and extension to discover new knowledge as well as to address issues of importance to the Commonwealth, the nation and the world; such as commercialization of wood products, sustainable forest management, logger education, harvesting BMPs, non-timber forest products, native habitat restoration, and environmental education. The department's mission to contribute to the economy of Kentucky is bolstered by unique assets such as a nationally recognized Wood Utilization Center and the University's Robinson Forest, both located in Eastern Kentucky. The Wood Utilization Center is a 14,000 square foot multipurpose facility that is extensively used for wood industry training. Its staff and equipment assist with industry problem-solving as well as with wood technology research and instruction for both UK and community college students. The University's 14,500 acre Robinson Forest, located within the heart of eastern Kentucky's Cumberland plateau, is one of the largest educational and research forests in the eastern United States. The Forest provides a unique situation for research, instruction and outreach for the department's diverse faculty and constituent interests.

Nearly half of the Commonwealth of Kentucky supports commercially and ecologically valuable forestland, providing many opportunities to diversify the Department's current role. The broader scope of the Department will include education of natural resource managers and scientists, social and ecological research relevant to environmental systems, and extension and outreach programs supporting Kentucky's natural resource user groups. Current opportunities for growth make this an opportune time to assess and renew the Department's academic outlook and commitment to natural resource management and stewardship.

The University of Kentucky empowered a UK Futures Task Force to recommend areas of academic strength for future enhancement, and environmental sciences was recognized as an area of special opportunity. In this context, we are committed to strengthening the Department of Forestry's important role in disciplines that relate to environmental sciences. We will educate foresters to master the technical and biological intricacies of sustainable forestland management including the growth of consumptive resources and improvement of the forests' non-consumptive benefits. The Department must educate natural resource managers who can balance disciplinary knowledge with a profound understanding of the increasingly complex social, economic, and environmental considerations that affect natural resource management decisions and actions in rural and urban environments. Growing concerns for protection of endangered species, conservation of native biodiversity, promotion of urban forest health, and restoration of degraded ecosystems broaden the challenges natural resource managers must address. These emerging issues present unique opportunities to expand collaborative work with federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations and private groups.

The UK Department of Forestry will build upon the successes of its Society of American Foresters accredited Forestry undergraduate program by expansion of the Master of Science program, an expanded program in doctoral education, and leadership of an interdisciplinary undergraduate program in Natural Resources and Conservation Management.

The Department of Forestry uses research forests and training facilities located throughout the state and region. The aforementioned Robinson Forest and the Wood Utilization Center are unique assets, but the Department has expanded this resource base by building strong collaborations and by participating in such interdisciplinary programs as provided by the UK Tracy Farmer Center for the Environment, as well as other UK Colleges and other universities. These resources, coupled with the university goal to strengthen and broaden environmental sciences and related disciplines, provide an exciting platform for enhancement of the Department of Forestry.