Forest Manager Kaimahi Ngahere

Forest managers plan and direct the planting, growth, harvesting and protection of forests for wood production.

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Forest managers may do some or all of the following:

  • plan and direct forest operations or new forest developments, including planting, pruning, forest growth measurement and tree harvesting
  • manage forestry contractors carrying out forest operations
  • manage the business and financial side of forest operations
  • market and negotiate log sales to domestic and export log processors  
  • analyse financial decisions and work out the cost-benefit of forest operations and make recommendations
  • ensure health, safety and environmental minimum standards are met or exceeded
  • monitor forest growth and health, security, fire prevention, and other maintenance activities.

Physical Requirements

Forest managers need to be reasonably fit and healthy as they may walk long distances.


Useful Experience

Useful experience for forest managers includes:

  • work experience in silviculture (growing and cultivating trees), or harvesting operations
  • experience managing people
  • project or contract management experience
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping (technology used to capture and analyse geographic data) 
  • accounting or business analysis. 

Personal Qualities

Forest managers need to be:

  • good at planning, organising and problem solving
  • good communicators, as they deal with a variety of people such as forest contractors 
  • adaptable and practical
  • responsible and alert
  • assertive.


Forest managers need to have:

  • good technical knowledge of forest management
  • knowledge of legal requirements such as the Resource Management Act and the Health and Safety at Work Act
  • knowledge of forestry operations, including things like forest fire prevention 
  • analytical and presentation skills.


Forest managers:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may have to work additional hours sometimes
  • work in offices and on-site at forests.

Forest Managers can earn around $55K-$95K per year.

Pay for forest managers varies depending on experience.

  • Forest managers with up to two years' experience usually earn between $55,000 and $60,000 a year. 
  • Forest managers with two to five years’ experience usually earn between $60,000 and $95,000. 
  • Senior forest managers with specialist responsibilities can earn between $95,000 and $150,000.

Source: Forestry Careers NZ, 2020.

Many forest managers start by supervising forestry contracting crews, and gaining operational experience. They can then progress to senior forest manager positions or become forestry consultants.

Years Of Training

3 years of training usually required.

To become a forest manager you need to have either:

  • a Diploma in Forest Management (Level 6) from Waiariki Institute of Technology
  • a degree in forestry science or forest engineering (Level 8) from the University of Canterbury.

A marketing and business qualification or management experience may also be useful for forest managers.

You also need to have a driver's licence.

Entering forestry management with transferable skills

If you have business or accounting skills gained from another industry, you can move into a forestry management support role. From there you can work towards gaining technical forestry knowledge and moving into a forest manager position.  

Forest Manager