Starting in 2016, the Department of Forestry will offer separate Degree (4 year) and Diploma (3 year) programmes. This replaces the initially combined degree/diploma curriculum where students were later separated into diploma or degree strands that was offered from 1995-2015. The change was made to give Diploma and Degree students distinctly different areas of expertise to improve their employability following graduation while retaining the broad education of the previous curriculum. All Diploma students now reside only at the Bulolo campus, whereas Degree students will spend 3 semesters at Bulolo campus, with the remaining time based at Taraka (Lae) main campus.
Both Diploma and Degree courses are designed to produce professional foresters who can meet managerial, field and lab technical officer needs of the National Forest Authority at district, provincial and national levels, as well as satisfying private sector forest industries. Forestry graduates should also be able to function effectively in other government departments too, such as the Department of Environment and Conservation, as well serving in non-governmental organisations whose missions relate to forestry and forests.
Course breakdown by year of study DEGREE:
Year 1 courses are intended to provide the student with a thorough grounding in the basic sciences: biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics and starting botany courses, together with study and communication skills and information technology basics. An introduction to forestry is also provided.
Year 2 courses are taken at Bulolo campus and designed to give basic practical skills, along with essential underlying theory. Topics studied include commercial tree and forest plant identification, ecology, biodiversity, silviculture, soils, surveying, mensuration, forest products and industries, business skills, and communication and negotiation skills.
Year 3 begins with a full semester of supervised industrial work experience, followed by a block course in timber harvesting. Semester break has a 2 week field course in Forest Inventory. During mid-semester break, all Degree students leave Bulolo and return to Taraka campus, Lae.
The second half of Semester 1 at Taraka is spent on block courses and field work in local forests with the objective of learning how to problem solve in forestry. This is preparatory to classes that will be taken in Semester 2 of Year 3 as well as in Year 4.Semester 2 courses at Taraka campus cover forest economics, silviculture, geographic information systems (GIS), wood science and technology, and experimental design and analysis. The latter course is preparatory to designing the Year 4 (final year) individual project in forestry.
Year 4 of the degree program cover topics such as agroforestry & community extension, forest inventory and assessment, forest management planning, forest engineering, forest product development and marketing, forest policy (formulation and analysis), wildlife management and conservation, and human resource management.
The Department of Forestry focuses professionally on environment management, conservation of resources and multiple land use, with these special areas of interest:
(i) Resource survey and environmental management,
(ii) Forest management and silviculture especially in respect of the lowland tropical forest ecosystems.
(iii) Reforestation and agro-forestry
(iv) Maximising the return from the country's forest resources with regard to the economic, social and environmental impact of forestry operations.
(v) Appropriate technology in all aspects of forestry.
(vi) Renewable energy resources.
(vii) Forest protection and wildlife management
(viii) Ecosystem and watershed management
(ix) The role of forests in climate change
In general, the course is oriented towards developing awareness among the students on the role of forestry, as an important natural resource, and how this resource can be best utilized to achieve national goals and rural community development without impacting too much on the environment.