MSU Forestry offers new graduate certificate in forest carbon science

A new graduate certificate program at Michigan State University (MSU) will take on climate change with an innovative approach.

A new graduate certificate program at Michigan State University (MSU) will take on climate change with an innovative approach – forests.

Beginning Fall 2012, the MSU Department of Forestry will offer a Graduate Certificate in Forest Carbon Science, Policy and Management, which will focus on the complex and emerging issues surrounding the use of forest management to mitigate global climate change.

“The Forest Carbon Science Certificate is a timely offering,” said Rich Kobe, chair of the Department of Forestry. “Forests play a critical role in regulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and thus exert a strong influence on the global climate system.”  Growing forests absorb carbon dioxide – the greenhouse gas emitted by burning of fossil fuels – and slow the rate at which it accumulates in the atmosphere. On the other hand, deforestation releases carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and contributes to global climate change. 

Recognition of the importance of forests by the international community means that forestry-based climate mitigation projects are booming. The new Forest Carbon Certificate will offer students the expertise needed to manage and contribute to these projects.  The program will teach students how forest management actions affect forest carbon balance, the ins and outs of forest carbon markets, the social and political context of managing forests for carbon sequestration, and the tools for measuring, monitoring, and accounting for forest carbon – including satellite imagery, remote sensing, and integrated carbon sequestration models. 

“The Department of Forestry at MSU marks its 110th anniversary this year. This extraordinary longevity has been attained because of a history of continuous innovation, like the Forest Carbon Certificate, that addresses the critical role of forests in human well-being and environmental quality,” Kobe said.

This first-of-its-kind program is expected to attract students from Michigan, the United States, and the world, especially from developing tropical countries that have abundant forests but lack forestry expertise. The program is open to a wide range of students, including students with a bachelor’s degree who are not enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program, as well as current master’s and doctoral students at MSU and other universities. Given the need to integrate sustainability and climate change mitigation across all economic sectors, the program will consider applicants from all backgrounds, including those involved in business, law, forestry, natural resources, environmental consulting, and government. Students without experience in forestry or a related field may need to supplement the certificate courses with independent study or additional coursework.

For more information, visit or contact David Rothstein, Associate Professor in the Department of Forestry, at 517-432-3353 or

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