Urban Forestry Technician (Co-op) Curriculum

School of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences

Apply in early October 2022 for September 2023

Credential: Ontario College Diploma ( 5 semesters )
Classes begin:
September 05, 2023
Offered at:
Frost Campus
Program code:
Tuition & Ancillary Fees:
$2,153.63 per semester*
$8,502.70 per semester*
* Tuition and fees subject to change.

Vocational Learning Outcomes

  • Identify and appraise a wide range of indigenous and introduced woody plant species in the urban forest.
  • Apply principles of tree anatomy and physiology to assess and maintain safe and healthy trees in urban forests.
  • Recommend appropriate arboriculture practices to maintain healthy and safe trees in the urban environment.
  • Collect, analyze, and model the characteristics of urban forests by using a range of spatial technologies.
  • Identify, monitor and address concerns of soil characteristics, watershed dynamics and wildlife habitats as they contribute to urban forest ecosystems in accordance with established environmental protocols.
  • Operate, maintain, and troubleshoot a range of standard equipment including clearing chainsaws, wood chippers and stumpers, as well as specialty equipment such as the aerial trim lift in a safe and secure manner.
  • Advocate for an integrated approach to urban forestry management that includes consideration of social, economic and conservation needs.
  • Interpret legislation, regulations, policies and procedures through all tiers of government as they relate to urban forestry within public and private lands.
  • Plan, budget, and implement fundamental business practices typically associated with the urban forestry practitioner.
  • Apply practices and principles of urban forest management in an ethical and professional manner.

Courses and Descriptions

Semester 1

APST 154
Units/ Hours: 30

This course is designed to equip students with the skills needed for their work search and to develop and enhance career planning skills. Students will learn how to write competitive job search documents, interview with confidence, and will develop and use their career portfolio as a tool to identify and incorporate career goals into the job search process.

Units/ Hours: 60

This course deals with the identification of approximately 125 trees and shrubs found in urban settings in Ontario. Tree features including leaves, twigs, bark and fruits are studied. The accuracy level for the identification tests is 80 per cent. The lecture series includes: the anatomy and physiology of leaves, stems, roots and flowers, fruit adaptations for seed dispersal and forest geography. The cultural requirements of the major urban tree species are studied.

Units/ Hours: 45

Students of the Forestry, Arboriculture and Urban Forestry Certificate/Technician programs possess an excellent foundation in the 'normal growth' of trees. This course introduces students to the study of insects and diseases of forest and urban trees. Identification, classification, and control measures of commercially important insects, pathogens and diseases are examined. The emphasis is on the pests of forest and urban trees and a collection of such specimens.

Units/ Hours: 90

Students are instructed in the safe operation and maintenance of equipment associated with the arboriculture and utility industries. Chainsaw operation and tree felling techniques are competency-based standards set out by the Professional Chainsaw Operation guidelines by Workplace Safety North. The techniques introduced in this course are transferable to other courses within the program. Students will be required to purchase items of personal protective equipment (safety glasses, safety boots, chainsaw pants, safety gloves, hard hat, and hearing protection) as recommended, before the course begins.

Units/ Hours: 90

Tree health management focuses on a thoughtful, holistic approach to successfully incorporating trees into the urban environment. Learning proper planning, planting and establishment strategies, students will focus on prevention of tree health problems. Students will develop the ability to diagnose damaging agents and prescribe required control or management measures using Integrated Pest Management and other industry mitigation techniques to maintain and establish healthy urban ecosystems. The economic and social impacts of trees in the landscape will also be examined to aid in decision making processes.

Units/ Hours: 45

This course is an introduction to the study of Indigenous (First Nations, Metis, and Inuit) peoples in Canada. Students will explore the complex historical and contemporary relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The course will also guide students to begin to understand the diversity and depth of Indigenous societies, worldviews, and knowledge through a multi-disciplinary lens.

Semester 2

Units/ Hours: 45

This course will enable students to apply specific mathematical concepts and acquire foundation skills important in the Natural Resource and Environmental Sciences. It is designed to complement and reinforce learning within other first semester courses and program areas.

Units/ Hours: 60

For many decades cities have been designed and constructed to support greyscapes. It is only in recent years that the spotlight has turned to the importance and the value of urban greenspaces. No living plant has greater struggles within the built environment than trees. Limitation of space and resources due to turf, soil compaction and concrete, challenge a tree's ability to thrive, yet they are absolutely essential to any urban area. Greenspace Management explores ways in which trees can be incorporated into developed spaces successfully. Students will also learn to plan for trees in new infrastructure, focusing on the essential requirements needed to reach maturity. This course builds on existing knowledge of tree culture and maintenance while integrating it with challenges presented in the urban environment. Students will learn effective practices that enhance the quality and longevity of trees and green spaces. Topics include elements needed for growth, spatial requirements and soil composition. Using knowledge gained in first and second semesters, students will begin work on preliminary phases of a program-long Urban Forest Management Plan.

Units/ Hours: 45

This course examines the basic concepts of glaciation and resultant landforms. Field trips examine the main physiographic units found in Southern Ontario. The course also focuses on basic geomorphology concepts pertaining to weathering, mass movement, erosion, stream and valley development and coastal processes which have occurred since deglaciation. The course is intended to give students a basic knowledge of the impact glaciation and modern surficial processes have had on our natural environment. Field trips examine the main glacial, fluvioglacial and lacustrine features found in South Central Ontario and encourage hands on participation in sampling data acquisition. Laboratory analyses serve to document the relationships between texture and origin of these features and to emphasize the importance of soils to land development. A major composite term project allows the student to develop and apply participation, organization and writing skills.

Units/ Hours: 45

This course introduces the students to tree anatomy, tree physiology, urban soil conditions, tree installation and the impact of construction on tree health. Field trips deal with tree selection, tree pruning, tree reaction to wounding and an introduction to hazard tree assessment.

COMP 491
Units/ Hours: 45

This computer course introduces the student to computer basics (computer terminology, e-mail, Internet, file management) and stresses the application and use of presentation, spreadsheet and database software, along with effective use of GPS/GIS technologies. To learn the latest computer techniques used by urban forest professionals, each student will be required to have a device (tablet / smart phone - Android or iPhone) capable of handling 'apps' and associated software. Through the extensive use of hand-on activities directly related to urban forestry, students will gain sufficient knowledge and experience to make productive use of computers/smart phones/tablets in the office or out on the streets of the urban landscape. The fundamental computer skills gained in this course will be applied throughout the remaining semesters.

LAWS 249
Units/ Hours: 45

The student will develop skills in working at the municipal government level to address multiple urban forestry legal issues. Skills will include interpretation and application of municipal tree bylaws, legislation, policies, and tenders and acts.

GNED 107
Units/ Hours: 45

This course introduces theories of conflict and different perspectives used to understand and assess conflict. Various views of conflict, conflict escalation and resolution are studied, utilizing insights from a range of disciplines including psychology, sociology, communications, cultural studies and law. It also introduces the theory and practice of negotiations and explores various models of negotiation and bargaining, highlighting similarities and differences in the models and methods of negotiation. Covers various stages of negotiation, from pre-negotiation to negotiation proper to post-settlement negotiation; and emphasizes the development of skills through the use of role plays to enable the participant to apply theory to cases.

Semester 3

APST 105
Units/ Hours: 450

The mandatory, paid co-op placement is intended to give students experience with real world organizations engaged in urban forestry activities. It provides the student the opportunity to apply existing knowledge and skills obtained in semester one of the program.


Semester 4

Units/ Hours: 90

Arboriculture Skills and Techniques provides classroom and hands on experience in many aspects of tree work from a ground-person's perspective. The focus is on preparing ground workers with the skills and knowledge to provide safe and efficient support to their crew, through in-depth understanding of the tools, equipment and techniques used for aerial work. Classes will provide opportunities to examine tree operations through team work.

COMM 248
Units/ Hours: 45

Communication skills and writing effective reports are skills that are high in demand within the profession of urban forestry. The ability to take scientific data and explain in simple terms to various audiences is essential to managing and promoting the importance of urban trees. This course focuses on building writing skills that demonstrate professionalism while meeting expected industry guidelines when writing arborist reports and other industry related reporting methods. It will also focus on the proper formatting of scientific writing and referencing to create strong communication tools that can be read and understood by citizens, contractors municipal representatives and other interested parties.

FSTY 103
Units/ Hours: 45

This course blends western and Indigenous sciences with the natural factors affecting the establishment and growth of trees individually and in communities. Learners will investigate how these factors affect the future development of plant communities according to the principle of succession. The development of plantations and woodlots will be examined from a successional point of view. Students will examine, in detail, the use of site classification systems and soil surveys as tools in silviculture decision making.

GEOM 112
Units/ Hours: 45

This course provides students with skills in data acquisition, data management and spatial analysis through a series of hands on projects. The course will stress the effective meshing of multiple technologies (GPS, GIS, & Drafting) to transfer real world data into comprehensive maps for quality decision making.

Units/ Hours: 45

There are two key areas of trees that must be looked at in order to grow trees successfully. Tree management from the ground up and tree roots and soil below ground. This course will look at the latter of the 2. Students will understand the contrast of natural soils and urban soils. They will learn the challenges trees face growing in urban soils and the importance of maintaining healthy soil in the built environment.

FSTY 104
Units/ Hours: 45

Invasive insect and disease outbreaks and increased susceptibility to tree damage from intense storms due to climate change have generated exceptionally higher amounts of wood waste from our urban forests. Much of this resource becomes waste, often diverted to landfill if alternatives cannot be found. This contributes to increased waste, carbon emissions and cost to municipalities and private tree care companies. This course will explore opportunities to convert urban wood waste into urban natural resource commodities and will explore current trends and future possible uses for this valuable resource. Hands on skills will also be practiced in the operation of a portable sawmill to convert logs to lumber, lumber identification, scaling and grading.

ENVR 109
Units/ Hours: 45

This modular course studies the various components of a watershed (limnology, hydrology, and hydrogeology) and their interactions. Various streamflow monitoring/sampling techniques and their applications to sedimentation and to predictions of flooding will be examined. Attention will be brought to the conflicting demands of use on watersheds and to various remedial options.

Semester 5

BUSN 145
Units/ Hours: 45

The success of any business relies on sound decision making and a thorough understanding of business operations. This course acquaints students with the processes involved in both the establishment and operation of a small business in the resource management and outdoor service sectors from the ground up. Students will explore all facets of a successful business including; operational, legal and administrative aspects.

FSTY 100
Units/ Hours: 45

Applying knowledge acquired in Dendrology I, students will learn the skills to identify any tree or shrub in a temperate climate. Students will be introduced to a variety of forest industry specializations and continue to build on their tree identification skills. Tree physiology will be studied in greater depth, building on the foundation of Dendrology I.

NATR 130
Units/ Hours: 45

This course provides an introduction to remote sensing and the interpretation of physical, biological and cultural features from remote sensed digital images. The student will have the opportunity to work with traditional remote sensing methods, current techniques and developing technology. By the end of semester the student will acquire a range of skills to analyze and interpret a wide variety of remote sensed data.

Units/ Hours: 45

Management of greenspace in the urban environment is essential to maintain the benefits trees provide. This course highlights the importance of being socially and politically connected to people of all ages in local communities and municipalities to address urban forest issues. Students will develop strong interpersonal and communication skills through direct contact, delivering educational sessions to a variety of community groups, schools and members of local municipalities.

MATH 134
Units/ Hours: 45

This course is designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of descriptive and inferential statistics with an emphasis on inference. The major topics include methods of analysing sets of data, probability, probability distributions, estimation, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, simple linear regression and correlation. Course concepts are applied to the natural sciences.

Units/ Hours: 45

This course examines the importance of wildlife in urban settings and the vital role they play in diverse urban landscapes. Life history, behaviour and habits of urban wildlife will be examined and management techniques will include methodology, materials, equipment and strategies used to enhance and promote a diverse population of wildlife. This course will explore the important role urban trees play in supporting wildlife and the ways that humans and wildlife in the urban environment can co-exist.

Units/ Hours: 45

This course deals with woody plant propagation within greenhouse and bare-root nurseries for both natural and urban landscapes as well as for forest management. This course also addresses preservation and care of horticultural plants for human well-being in urban settings. Topics include tree seed processing, stratification, germination, seedling culture, cutting propagation, nursery soils, fertilizers, irrigation, and quality control. Special emphasis will be placed on plant selection, plant growth and responses, horticultural practices, preventative maintenance, nursery stock handling, plant-to-soil relationships, and overall seedling physiology.

Units/ Hours: 45

All graduates of diploma programs require general education credits. These courses allow you to explore issues of societal concern by looking at the history, theory and contemporary applications of those issues.

Your program has designated some required general education courses. In addition, you have the opportunity to choose from a list of electives each semester.

Many of these courses and some other general education courses are also available through evening classes, by distance education, or on-line. See our Part-Time Studies Calendar for these opportunities.

You may already possess general education equivalencies from other colleges or universities. Please see the General Education Co-ordinators at the Peterborough and Lindsay locations for possible exemptions.