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Forest Geomatics and Biometrics Technology

Develop specialized skills to sustainably manage forests for future generations.

A man in a hardhat and safety vest operates a drone in a forest.
Start Date:
Typical Length:
1 Year
Graduate Certificate

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Ecological forest management ensures resources are harvested in a way that supports both the economy and protects the biodiversity of the forest. This program equips you with the specialized geomatics skills needed to achieve this balance. 

You develop skills to inventory forest values, plan harvests and forecast ecosystem response through the practical, real-world application of current technologies. These skills are critical in supporting the shift to a selection-based harvest model that supports forest ecology, biodiversity and sustainable forest development.

You learn to: 

  • Identify forest ecosystem characteristics that inform sustainable, culturally appropriate forestry practices including forest structure, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, hydrology, stand health, land use and other information to support ecological forestry.
  • Plan and execute remote data collection including GIS and remote sensing to identify forest characteristics and monitor, map and manage forest ecosystems.
  • Apply statistical analysis methods to spatial and non-spatial forest data to support ecological forest management.
  • Design cartographic products to communicate data with colleagues, community partners and landowners.
  • Identify practices for applying a two-eyed seeing approach to sustainable forestry.

Work experience

  • Field experience is a mandatory credit course, providing the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills outside the classroom.
    • Opportunities are typically unpaid and last approximately 5 weeks.
  • Transportation, accommodations and other costs related to work experience courses are your responsibility.
  • For more information, visit work experience opportunities.

Study options

  • This program is offered in-person with extensive field work. 

Choose NSCC

  • This program is offered at the Centre of Geographic Science (COGS), Canada’s largest geomatics-focused learning environment, and prepares you for a career in forest management. COGS has earned a strong reputation among employers and geomatics professionals for the quality of the programs, hands-on training and practical learning provided to students.
  • You use the most up-to-date equipment and software and get hands-on training.
  • Small class sizes provide you with lots of opportunities for one-on-one interaction and support.

Other info

  • Some travel is required and varies based on your specific program plan. Additional costs include meals and accommodation.
  • This program includes a large outdoor component to prepare you for real workplace situations. You should be in good physical condition and be prepared to work in a variety of weather conditions.
  • Many employers in this industry require a current, official criminal record check as part of the hiring process. A conviction on your criminal record may impact your ability to secure employment.

September 2024

Campus Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Annapolis Valley Campus
Classes at COGS
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Seats available

Admission requirements

  • Diploma, advanced diploma, graduate certificate, or undergraduate degree from a related area. Related areas include:
    • Forestry (including Natural Resource Environmental Technology)
    • Geomatics (including Geographic Information Systems, Cartography, Geomatics Engineering Technology)
    • Geography
    • Environmental Science
    • Biology
    • Archaeology
    • Geology
    • Engineering (including technology and technician programs)
    • Resource Management
  • International students – Submit your official post-secondary documents for assessment. View document and language requirements by country
  • View NSCC programs that meet the admission requirements for this program.

Program requirements

  • Portfolio development – As part of your studies at NSCC, you develop a portfolio of your work; the portfolio captures your achievements and profiles your skills to employers.


Tuition amounts are for the 2024-25 academic year. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional.

Tuition (Domestic):
Tuition (International):

Tuition, fees and program costs

In addition to annual tuition, there are program costs (books, tools, etc.) and student fees for College services, health and dental plans, your student association and parking.

View detailed program fees page(s). Please note that amounts on these pages are meant for planning purposes only. They don't represent final amounts owing.

Career options

Graduates are uniquely prepared for careers in ecological forest management. They are employed with conservation groups, government agencies, environmental consulting companies, engineering firms and forest management companies in a variety of capacities including:

  • Forest Inventory Resource Officer
  • Forest Planning Technologist
  • Forest Survey or Research Officer
  • Park Planning Technician

Courses may include

These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

Recognizing prior learning / transfer credits
If you have previous learning (course, employment, etc...) that's relevant to your program, you may be able to apply to earn credit. Not all programs are eligible. Learn about our recognizing prior learning (RPL) process.

FGBT 5000 - Policy, Partnerships, and Certifications for Ecological Forestry
The forest sector is undergoing transformative change in Nova Scotia. New policies and processes are emerging to serve an ecological, sustainable, and culturally sensitive approach to forest stewardship. In this course students learn about the new ecological forestry approach in the province. They gain an understanding of the evolution of forest policy and the regulations that support it in a provincial, federal and indigenous context. The land rights and tenure in Nova Scotia are unique within Canada and students gain an appreciation how this affects forest policy, legislation and stewardship. Certification is also a formal element of forest stewardship in Canada and internationally. Students gain an appreciation of the requirements for maintaining certification on forest lands through case studies and applied class and field assessments. Students participate in discussions through online meetings with policy makers and field trips to apply theory and knowledge gained from practical exercises in and outside the classroom.

FGBT 5005 - Forest Analytics and Biometrics
We live in a world that is increasingly rich in data, and decisions need to be made on information transformed from this data. In this course, students use data from a temporal forest inventory monitoring database and data collected from the local Cogs woodlot to produce elementary statistical models and understand how to import and use a modern open-source statistical package. Forest Biometrics is also increasingly driven by remote sensing techniques. During the course, students process LiDAR data, through supervised and unsupervised classification. In doing so, they gain understanding of the technologies and platforms used to collect and maintain a full range of forest data.

FGBT 5010 - Forest Data Collection Methods
Good forest analyses rely heavily on accurate data that is collected in a timely manner using state-of-the-art technology. In this course students use a cloud-based technology with a mobile platform to collect data. They analyze and visualize this data using mainstream reporting tools. The course emphasizes how to use a forest inventory design to capture this data and how to validate it using standard quality control techniques. Students then use the data in applied ecological forestry scenarios, such as a pre-treatment assessment application. Students collect data using remotely piloted aircraft in conjunction with ground-based methods to provide more consistent and transparent data. The course also shows how to design an acquisition plan for Imagery and Lidar and create a pipeline for processing the data.

FGBT 5015 - GIS Fundamentals for Ecological Forest Management
Geographical information systems are a necessity for any forestry professional working with today’s complex forest management systems. In this course students explore the datums and projections that are commonly used in Atlantic Canada and how they impact map production. Students gain an understanding of digitization from a variety of imagery sources and combine them with existing data sources from external data providers. Students delve into the best practices of data storage using various spatial data formats. Throughout the course students summarize and report on data that emphasizes the use of ecological classification systems for Nova Scotia. Students benefit from guest lecturers through Microsoft Teams to show how industry and community partners are implementing GIS in their organization.

FGBT 5020 - Data Management and Workflow Design
Maintaining data in a consistent manner and establishing guidelines for identifying it for future use is a main stay for a successful analyst. In this course students use existing data sets collected from third parties to understand how to be a data steward and ensure proper validation techniques are employed to meet commonly accepted industry standards. Students use common data base management software and coding strategies to maintain data integrity.

FGBT 5025 - Ecological Landscape Design
Ecological forestry relies on a landscape planning approach to sustain ecosystems and habitats across NS while also supporting sustainable forest harvest. Ecological land classification is a widely accepted method for delineating areas of land with similar ecological patterns and processes. In this course students gain a comprehensive understanding of the primary biological and physical processes shaping ecosystem structure and function. This course allows students to use their own data to apply knowledge of the various guidebooks and keys to solve complex landscape design challenges. Students use their own data collected from the campus woodlot and external visits to local woodlots and Crown license areas. Through experiential learning, students apply aspects of the triad approach to ecological forestry in practical assignments.

FGBT 5030 - GIS Analyses for Forest Management
Many models need complex analysis done to be used by forest practitioners. This course explores the use of commonly used GIS processes and tools to produce needed for forest management planning. This analysis strives to represent the three components of the triad concept of forest management in Nova Scotia. Students use raster and vector data and produce processes that are repeatable and well documented to allow for use by a variety of users. This course allows for students to gain exposure on the latest GIS software with emphasis on the most efficient tool to solve the spatial challenge.

FGBT 5035 - Forest Planning and Reporting
Forest planning in NS entails balancing a range of forest values and conditions within an ecoliogical forestry approach. The best way to ensure success is to have a strategic plan and a firm understanding of objectives and constraints. This course gives students an understanding how forest planning models are formulated and how multiple forest values are balanced in ecological forestry. Students learn the basic inputs and outputs of the model and how to share the results through meaningful reports and maps. Students work in groups and independently to identify how analysis techniques can be used to shape forest policy by understanding the management objectives of multiple partners.

FGBT 5040 - Geospatial Data Analysis and Predictive Modelling
This course builds on the knowledge gained from the Forest Analytics and Biometrics course. Students gain an understanding of conventional machine learning techniques to produce forest inventory metrics for use in producing an enhanced forest inventory. Students also develop skills in data wrangling and data science methodology to validate models. This course places a strong emphasis on fusing imagery and Lidar to provide accurate estimation of inventory metrics using categorical and continuous data. Students assess errors, explore a well-balanced training data set, and examine the pitfalls of a poor design on predictive success. Students use individual tree delineation techniques along with area based methods for imputing plot information on the landscape.

FGBT 5050 - Capstone Project
This course allows students to synthesize the skills and knowledge acquired in the program by completing a capstone project. Working in a team, students use industry standard tools to complete a specific project with an industry partner or community organization as their client.

FGBT 5100 - Work Experience
This course allows students to synthesize the skills and knowledge acquired in the program by completing a work experience with an industry partner. Students apply their learning from across the program while developing new skills on the job. Students demonstrate professionalism throughout the work experience while also reflecting on their own performance.

INDG 1000 - Mi’kmaq Traditional Knowledge Connections in Science
This course offers the learner a chance explore Mi’kma’ki and Mi’kmaq to better understand the land and its people, gain an understanding of Mi’kmaq traditional knowledge and to implement Mi’kmaq traditional knowledge in the field.

SAFE 1000 - Introduction to WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems)
This course offers learners basic overview of WHMIS principles and establishes a solid foundation to support workplace-specific training on the safe storage and handling of controlled/hazardous products. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive basic WHMIS certification.

SAFE 1001 - Introduction to NS OH&S Act
This course offers students an introduction to the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Act of Nova Scotia, which is required by any person employed in a Nova Scotia workplace. This is a generic, introductory course that provides basic knowledge of the Act for students and is considered to be the basis from which more specific training can be given.

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