UGA Extension, Southern Regional Extension Forestry create app for foresters

Service Forester’s Handbook 2014 app-v.photo
Service Forester's Toolkit

Athens, Ga. – Professional foresters have long relied on the 135-page “Service Forester’s Handbook” for on-the-go access to the formulas, facts and figures they need. The pocket-sized weather-resistant field guide helps foresters convert figures, calculate volumes and dozens of other key calculations.

University of Georgia Extension and Southern Regional Extension Forestry recently released the first electronic and interactive version of the field guide, known as the “Service Forester’s Toolkit.”

“This handbook was originally developed by the U.S. Forest Service many years ago, and it was last updated in 1986,” said William Hubbard, a Southern Regional Extension forester with the Association of Southern Region Extension Directors. “It is still in use, but it needed a review of current materials and a number of new and updated formulas… everybody I’ve talked to in the forestry community has said this was a long time coming.”

Driven by the need to revamp a staple publication in modern forestry, Hubbard worked with UGA Extension and the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Office of Information Technology to update and develop an interactive application for iPads and iPhones to compliment the paper guidebooks.

In addition to the facts and figures that appear in the original paper guidebook, the app—developed by the college’s application programmer Benaiah S. M. Pitts—contains calculators to help foresters determine soil texture, site index, basal area of trees, tree stand density and other figures.

“Some of the information in the handbook is given in charts, and foresters in the field have to give their clients estimates or ranges,” Pitts said. “Having calculators in the app will allow them to get exact numbers.”

These calculators are available without access to the Internet, which was an important feature for foresters who often work in areas without reliable mobile service, Hubbard said.

The handbook, which will be useful for foresters across the South, is available as a free download through the Apple iTunes store for both iPad and iPhone by searching for “Service Forester’s Toolkit” or “forestry kit.” A version for Android phones and tablets is expected to be ready for download later this year.

Collaboration between UGA Extension and Southern Regional Extension Forestry earlier this year also resulted in the creation of a consumer-oriented mobile field guide, “Native Plants of North Georgia.” Based on a UGA Extension publication, the app—produced by UGA Extension and the UGA CAES information technology team—was the first created in-house by UGA Extension.

Both projects were funded by CAES and the U.S. Forest Service.

Founded in 1979, Southern Regional Extension Forestry is a collaboration between the U.S. Forest Service and southern land-grant universities. Extension foresters provide educational services to landowners and forest industry professionals in the southern U.S. For more information, see http://www.sref.info/.

UGA Extension was founded in 1914 through the Smith-Lever Act, a federal law that established and funded a state-by-state national network of educators who bring university-based research and practical knowledge to the public. Today, Extension in Georgia is a cooperative effort by federal, state and local government partners administered by UGA and Ft. Valley State University. Throughout 2014, UGA Extension celebrates the centennial of the national Cooperative Extension System. For more information, see http://extension.uga.edu.