Published on 06/17/14

UGA Extension and Southern Regional Extension Forestry create new mobile app for professional foresters

By Merritt Melancon

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.

This spring UGA Extension and Southern Regional Forestry Extension have released the first electronic and interactive version of the field guide.

“This handbook was originally developed by the U.S. Forest Service many years ago, and it was last updated in 1986,” said William Hubbard, Southern Regional Extension Forester with the Association of Southern Region Extension Directors (ASRED). “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 app 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 UGA CAES 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, so foresters in the field can only 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 southern U.S., is available as a free download through the Apple iTunes store for both iPad and iPhones by searching for “forestry kit” or “Service Forester’s Handbook." A version for Android phones and tablets should be ready for download later this year.

Collaboration between UGA Extension and Southern Regional Extension Forestry earlier this year resulted in the creation of a consumer oriented mobile field guide, Native Plants of North Georgia. Based on a popular UGA Extension publication, the app — also produced by the UGA CAES information technology team — was the first to be 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 about the Southern Regional Extension Forestry office, visit

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 the University of Georgia and Ft. Valley State University. Throughout 2014, UGA Extension celebrates the centennial of the national Cooperative Extension System. For more information, visit

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