Master of Forest Resources (“MFR”)
The MFR degree combines business and forestry knowledge to prepare individuals for a host of career options in forest business. This non-thesis graduate degree includes coursework split between the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, Terry College of Business, and other disciplines. Unlike any masters degree in the country, the MFR blends graduate business courses and advanced forestry coursework. The program is integrated with UGA’s Center for Forest Business, a leading knowledge center for the timberland investment and operations industry.
Timberland Investment Management Organizations (TIMOs):
TIMOs manage large investments in timberland for pension funds, high net worth individuals, and others. TIMOs became particularly important after the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974 provided a mandate for pension fund diversification. MFR graduates often enter TIMOs as analysts. Analysts are likely to attain exposure to timberland acquisition and disposition, quarterly reporting and accounting, timber harvest scheduling and inventory analysis, market research, and other functions.
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs):
Publicly traded timber REITs (Plum Creek, Potlatch, Rayonier, and Weyerhaeuser) manage timberland investments similar in scale to TIMOs. REITs manage for the benefit of shareholders invested in their publicly traded securities. The timber class of REITs is considered a liquid alternative to timberland exposure. A MFR graduate is likely to find similar opportunities at REITs as he or she may find with a TIMO. REITs employ graduates for many business analyst functions but employ them in field capacities frequently as well. Timber REITs manage land internally as part of a vertically integrated asset management approach. This approach requires direct employment of field foresters to manage land.
Forest consulting firms provide forest management services for TIMOs, private investors, and forest products companies. The job of the forest management consultant is to maximize financial return for clients. Many landowners do not have well thought out property plans and require professional advice. The ability to advise customers and deal with wide-ranging personalities is critical. Staying well informed of changing market dynamics is also critical—the consultant must stay abreast of new opportunities like conservation easements, taxation, biomass, and carbon sequestration.
Many timberland transactions involve debt to enable deal consummation or to enhance returns. The lender touches segments of land management, portfolio management, project management, and business development. Entry-level analysts support loan originators and spend considerable time checking financials and physical property for due diligence on potential deals. A lender should have a strong ability to converse on forestry operations. However, a straightforward ability to develop relationships and communicate is equally as important as finance, real estate, accounting, or forestry knowledge.
Timberland investors may enter conservation transactions that maximize wealth. Investment firms work with state agencies, federal agencies, and NGOs to negotiate compensation for conservation easements. Individuals must understand finance, tax laws, real estate transactions, and general natural resources science. Timberland is an ideal asset to blend profit and conservation motives, because land is conserved while still offering substantial financial return. The position of a non-profit forester involves relationships above all else. These individuals work with investment firms, charitable donors, the U.S. Forest Service, the Department of Defense, land trusts, and many others. Attempting to satisfy all parties while still accomplishing the goals of the conservation group is a relational art.
One way to fulfill research interests outside of academia is to pursue positions in forestry sectors of organizations like the United Nations, FAO, OECD, or The World Bank. Individuals in this field create resource assessments and influence policy. They collect and analyze information which is synthesized into reports on topics like wood procurement, energy, climate change, and ecosystem services. The states of natural resources are often determined reliably via the reporting of individuals in this capacity.
Wood procurement positions are held with a variety of organizations from wood dealers to energy companies. The quantitative, marketing and business development skill set acquired through the MFR program is essential to this type of work, where creating valuable supply relationships are the end goal. This type of position is a great avenue to learn the true value of raw materials in a supply chain and how that supply chain functions throughout the industry.
Timberland management is critical for all forestry related professions. A MFR graduate will have silvicultural, operational, financial and GIS application knowledge to make informed decisions to optimize the profitability of industry operations. The MFR program will prepare students for forest industry positions.
For qualified and motivated individuals, the MFR provides working assistantships which cover tuition and provide a monthly stipend. Students obtain valuable work experience through assistantships, often working with Timber Mart-South, an industry renowned publication, or working on cutting edge forestry research projects.
For more information on assistantship funding, see
The opportunities for MFR graduates are wide-ranging and the areas outlined in this pamphlet are by no means all-encompassing. Graduates are also found in policy positions, academia, or even outside of the industry altogether. It should be noted that graduate education opportunities in forest business at the University of Georgia are not limited to the MFR. Past and current students also seek forest business specializations by means of M.S. and PhD. Discussion with a forest business faculty member will help to clarify the best path for prospective applicants. Regardless of the path taken, the MFR degree provides core business and forestry knowledge preparing individuals for a rewarding and challenging career.
Contact Director Joe Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706.389.8424
for more information on the MFR program.
Details regarding MFR course requirements can be found at:
Student application details can be found at:
Many Thanks to those listed below for this description of career paths.
Bob Izlar Director Emeritus Center for Forest Business
Carter E. Coe, MFR
J. Stephen Smith, MFR Candidate
John Izard III, MFR Candidate
March 30, 2011