Kigwang Baek, Humboldt State


Kigwang Baek wearing bright construction attire working in a forest

Kigwang is currently enrolled as a graduate student in the Natural Resources Graduate Program / Forest, Watershed and Wildland Science option at Humboldt State University. Kigwang’s research and classes focus on forest operation analyses. He expects to graduate in May of 2018. Prior to entering graduate school, Kigwang obtained his undergraduate degree in forestry from Chonnam National University, South Korea.

According to Kigwang, the reforestation effort in South Korea has been successful. However, to apply advanced forestry technologies in South Korea, Kigwang felt that he needed to broaden his knowledge of forestry operations and decided if he wanted to learn this he would need to study abroad. Kigwang decided to pursue his graduate studies at Humboldt State due to its reputation in forestry and his long-standing interest in forest operations, specifically in mechanized harvesting systems.

Historically, Humboldt County forests were comprised of large diameter redwoods whose trees were typically harvested by using a labor-intensive manual method. Over time, forest composition changed from old growth to third growth, with the latter typified by high density redwood stands. In response, local timber companies in northern California are beginning to apply a new harvesting system called “cut-to-length”, which they believe will more effectively harvest redwood while reducing environmental impacts and improving forest health and sustainability.

The “cut-to-length” project is funded by the Department of Energy and the ARI with industry collaboration with the Green Diamond Resource Company. The project is being led by Dr. Han-Sup Han, an associate professor in the Department of Forestry and Wildland Resources at Humboldt State University. Kigwang was invited by Dr. Han to study how the new harvesting method worked in Humboldt County and was soon working on the project as a graduate student. This research opportunity provided him with the ability to further develop and strengthen his research methods and increased his in-depth knowledge of forest operations and management. Kigwang stated he learned that organizational skills are essential for success since they affect every stage of research, from determining the best way to develop the objectives to collecting and analyzing the data.

Following the completion of his graduate degree, Kigwang hopes to continue his education in a doctoral program focusing on forest engineering and operations. Given the knowledge he has obtained from the ARI research, Kigwang would like to determine if these mechanization techniques would work in the steep sloped terrain that is typical of South Korea. Kigwang also hopes to strengthen his understanding regarding the integration of all forest operations and how to successfully adapt and apply the most efficient method to various situations and terrains.