Forestry – All 3 Legs of the Stool by Afiya De Sormeaux

Scott A. Sager is a Forester at the University of Florida’s (UF) Austin Cary Forest (ACF) and has worked in forestry for almost 20 years. His entrance into the field was as an undergraduate at UF, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in Forest Resources and Conservation and master’s degree in Forest Economics/Management. Sager has worked in the UF School Forest Resources and Conservation (SFRC) for the past eight years teaching, advising students, and as a forester at ACF. His responsibilities include administration, teaching, and forest management.

Sager at ACF, Gainesville, Florida

Sager noted that while many natural resource areas focus on the ecological and social aspects, forestry is the only area that emphasizes “all three legs of the stool.” Meaning, forestry encompasses ecological, social, and economic qualities. At ACF there is an exhibit of an antique wood-fired still which was used for turpentine distillation (image above).

Left: Early pine-tapping collection. Right: Modern pine-tapping collection.

Turpentine distillation was common in the early 1800s in the southeastern U.S. Historical uses of pine chemicals included using the sap/resin from the pine trees to create pitch or tar. Modern uses include household cleaners and bonding agents such as glue.

Sager noted that well-managed forested areas support several essential environmental needs such as protecting wildlife, water quality and availability, and better air quality. Additionally, forests provide sociological benefits of green spaces and recreational use.

▶ Sager showing a gopher tortoise's burrow at ACF.

While Sager does not currently conduct research, he is very much involved in forest management at ACF. Specifically, Sager helps with the planning and implementation of prescribed fires.

Prescribed Burning: ‘carefully planned and directed use of fire to achieve land management goals, is a useful tool for resource managers in Florida.’

As a forester, Sager works with landowners to help them decide which management practices would work best to achieve their goals.

When planning the implementation of prescribed burning, Sager noted three general considerations a forester uses to prescribe a burn:

  1. Landowner’s goal
  2. Seasonality (wet or dry)
  3. Wind conditions (direction and speed)

Sager regularly teaches courses such as field operations for management of ecosystems, dendrology, natural resource sampling, and a capstone course in the SFRC.

It’s being able to connect a student with a job opportunity when they graduate... Seeing that they are successful... - Sager

Sager said that while he loves writing land management plans and watching them in action, he has a passion for teaching and advising SFRC students.

Top: Sager teaching students at UF. Left: Location of the SFRC Department. Right: Forestry information facts displayed in SFRC.

Sager noted that although there are challenges facing forestry in Florida (e.g. population growth, urbanization, climate change), there are opportunities for sustainable management to achieve the various stakeholders' goals. Lastly, Sager noted that the forestry program at UF is strong and produces exceptional graduates who have a promising future in a career related to forestry.

Learn more about the Austin Cary Forest and the SFRC by visiting:

Photo Essay by Afiya De Sormeaux

Graduate Student in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication specializing in Agricultural Communication

From left to right: Mr. Scott A. Sager, Ms. Afiya De Sormeaux


Afiya De Sormeaux