e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Forest HealthBachelor of Science



Forest Health is a multidisciplinary and collaborative field of study that involves the understanding, monitoring, and protection of the world's forest resources. Forests support biodiversity, provide immense ecosystem services including water purification and carbon sequestration, and provide essential raw materials. Forest health experts support healthy forests by managing threats caused by invasive species, poor management, climate change, fire, and other anthropogenic factors.

A foundation in forest health requires coursework in ecology, dendrology, forest management, silviculture, mycology, plant pathology, and entomology. This major was developed to address the demand for broadly trained graduates to work in wide range of professional capacities in government agencies, the private sector, and academia.

forest health

The forest health major prepares biology-oriented students for employment in positions that deal with maintaining the health of forest resources. The major is distinct from those in the Department of Forest and Natural Resources Management and its forest ecosystem science major, which provides skills and preparation in forest management. Employers today have expressed a need for a deeper understanding of the science behind the trees. Positions requiring a forest health background are found in federal and state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector. With good performance, the forest health major prepares students for graduate study in preparation for higher-level positions, such as forest pathologist, entomologist, or mycologist.

The curriculum provides a solid foundation in mathematics and the physical sciences (chemistry, physics) followed by courses focusing on forest trees and their requirements, the basic ecological principles that shape forest ecosystems, and the management of these ecosystems. Other required courses introduce students to the identification and impact of biological agents of disease and physical damage, and to the methods by which these are monitored. The flexibility of the major will permit students to pursue more intensive training in integral forest health specialties, such as forest pathology and forest entomology, or to obtain even broader knowledge in related fields such as forestry, microbiology, mycology, conservation biology, and ecology. Field experience is an important element of the program and is integral to several required courses and many of the directed electives. Two of the requirements are field courses at the Cranberry Lake Biological Station.


  • Melissa K. Fierke; mkfierke@esf.edu
    forest entomology, forest ecology, invasive forest pests, insect-tree interactions, tree defenses
  • Thomas R. Horton; trhorton@esf.edu
    mycorrhizal plant ecology, molecular ecology, ecology, fungal communities, mycology, fire ecology
  • Dylan Parry; dparry@esf.edu
    Biological invasion, climate change, and conservation, primarily in the context of insects in forested ecosystems.
  • William A. Powell; wapowell@esf.edu
    forest biotechnology, molecular plant-microbe interactions, genetic engineering in plant conservation, antimicrobial peptide design, plant gene design, plant pathology, molecular biology
  • Stephen A. Teale; sateale@esf.edu
    forest entomology, insect behavior, pheromones of forest insects, insect ecology, pest management, chemical ecology, evolution of pheromone communications
  • Alexander Weir; aweir@esf.edu
    conservation mycology, fungal biodiversity and conservation, fungal-arthropod interactions, biology of parasites and symbionts, systematics and evolutionary biology of fungi, fungi and humans, biology of parasites and symbionts

Forest Health Links

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What Some of our Grads are Doing Now...

  • Kathleen McKeever: MS Forest Pathology, Washington State University. Currently pursuing Ph.D in Forest Pathology, WSU.
  • Jordan Zachritz: Currently pursuing Ph.D Forest Pathology at the University California, Berkeley.
  • Jarrod Zelko: Currently pursuing MS Forest Pathology at Auburn University.
  • Joelle Chille: Forest Health Monitor, New York State, Dept. of Agriculture & Markets. Currently pursuing MS Forest Entomology, SUNY-ESF.
  • Paul Bryant: MS Forest Entomology at ESF. Now with Sterling International Inc.
  • Steve Letkowski: MS Forest Pathology at ESF. Now with Environmental Consultants Inc.
  • Devon Bartholomew: Now with Bartlett Expert Tree Care Inc.
  • Gregg Williams: Now with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

There are currently 15 students in the Forest Health program.