In addition to timber harvest work, professional foresters can also help with non-harvest questions, like forest trail design, appraisals, tax basis determination, advice about forest property tax programs, and managing for wildlife.
In New York, there is no legal definition of a forester, so very qualified and less qualified individuals use the title, leaving forest owners confused about competency. Unfortunately, if someone calls himself or herself a forester, there is still a lot you do not know about them. Check their credentials.
A professional forester should have a 2 or 4-year degree in a science field, usually forestry, from a college recognized for its excellence. In New York, SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, and Paul Smith's College are both accredited forestry schools. Graduates of forestry schools have both theoretical and field experiences to help guide the choices you will make.
Your forester should be a current member of the Society of American Foresters (SAF), New York Institute of Consulting Foresters (NYICF), or the Association of Consulting Foresters of America (ACF). These organizations provide standards of professional conduct, training opportunities, and conferences for additional learning. A forester who belongs to these groups is demonstrating their willingness to learn more and more.
The Society of American Foresters has a certification program (SAFCF), which requires that foresters meet the profession's educational requirements, have five or more years of professional forestry experience, adhere to standards of professional practice, pass a rigorous competency exam, and participate in continuing education. The SAF notes, "You can be assured you are hiring a qualified forester if you hire a CF." Most forest owners have no idea that such competent foresters live and work in their region.
A professional forester should be happy to direct you a list to satisfied clients, even bringing you to recent jobs that bear the marks of good forestry. Ask your forester about past work, and follow up with some references to see if their circumstances are similar to yours.
Dozens of foresters in New York work with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation as Cooperating Consulting Foresters. These foresters have agreed to maintain ethical and educational standards, in compliance with the New York Cooperating Forester Program policy.
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Last updated July 26, 2019