Anthony Davis (Professor, Forester)

Raising trees from seed for a sustainable future  

Anthony Davis has a special affinity for growing trees and contributing to sustainable forests.
As a young college student in Canada, he had the opportunity to plant trees and work outdoors. That inspired him
to learn more about the science of growing trees and pursue a Ph.D. in the field of silviculture. Nowadays, he oversees
the Pitkin Forest Nursery as part of his duties as the Director of the University of Idaho Center for Forest Nursery and
Seedling Research.
Each year, the Pitkin Forest Nursery raises about 400,000 seedlings ready to be planted in Idaho’s forests and elsewhere.
The nursery grows an impressive diversity of plants and trees as well — 70 different species. “As an undergrad, I knew that
I wanted to be in a field where I contributed to forest regeneration,”
Davis says. “The effective practice of silviculture requires knowledge of so many fields: how plants grow; administration; problem solving; economics. I felt this was a noble challenge that
suited my skills and interests.”
Davis enjoys raising trees that lead to sustainable forests in Idaho. “Our forest resources are the
closest thing we really have to a sustainable resource,”
he says. “So when we start a crop of seedlings, and we’re able to grow
them, that becomes a key part of our sustainable forests.”
Intelligent management of forests is a key ingredient in the concept of sustainability, Davis says. “Our forests, when properly managed, can be a source of building materials, clean water supplies, and
fuel for energy. As foresters, we manage for future generations. We are concerned about making sure there is a sustained yield of
products over time.”

As a university professor, Davis enjoys teaching students the skills and know-how they’ll need to manage sustainable forests
in the future. “I truly believe that our resources need to be directed into future generations,” he says. “Whether we are talking about
regenerating a forest, and how we work so hard to leave the land in better condition when we finish than when we start, or where
we develop the skills needed for students to apply state-of-the-art knowledge to traditional professions.”

Davis learned the science of growing healthy trees in a wide variety of forests in North America — from the forests of northern
Ontario, Canada, to hardwood forests in Indiana, where he obtained his Ph.D. from Purdue University, to the softwood forests in Idaho.
He shares his knowledge in a unique way because of his multiple roles at the University of Idaho — teaching, operating the nursery
and research.
“I teach a core course, Forest Regeneration, in the Forest Resources undergraduate program, conduct research on nursery production
as well as the behavior of plants under varied environmental conditions, and serve Idahoans by hosting workshops and transferring
technology to professionals and landowners,”
he says.        Research about native trees is crucial, Davis says.
Understanding how water, carbon, and nitrogen
cycles work – and are influenced by our daily
activities – requires a strong understanding
of trees,”
he says. “Our drinking water
depends on healthy forests. Wood provides
us with a renewable source of building
materials; trees and the by-products of timber
processing are a good, local source of energy;
and trees provide food and shelter for humans
and wildlife.”

Forestry students will enjoy the dynamics of a
forestry career and the side benefit of working
outdoors, Davis says. “The future is full of
possibilities. As we continue to pay more and more
attention to our natural resources (renewable
materials, energy security), jobs will require people who
can manage based on science,”
he says. “Research has
fueled great advances in American productivity and will
continue to do so. The opportunity exists for our graduates
to be leaders in their fields, bringing cutting-edge findings to
work every day, while spending time in our beautiful forests!”

He encourages his students to travel widely and learn core
sciences to assist in a promising career. “Travel and see the
forests of the United States and the world, and talk to people in
different parts of the world to enhance the scope of what you see here,”

he says. “Base management on science. If you look at the great gains in
productivity over the past couple of hundred years,
it has been through science.”

Family: Professor Davis is married to Amy Ross-Davis and they have
two children, Sam and Abby.

Want to know more?

º General information about the University of Idaho College of Natural Resources:

º Professor Anthony Davis faculty bio:

º Information about the UI Center for Forest Nursery and Seedling Research:

º Pitkin Forest Nursery:

º Research projects under way at the UI Center for Forest Nursery and Seedling Research:

º Learn about U of I research “Return of the Giants – Restoring Western White Pine to the Inland Northwest”

º Learn about Idaho’s softwood trees:

º Learn about reforestation and job creation: