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.
Definition of a forester
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.
What to look for in a forester
Education and training
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
Experience and referrals
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.
Where to find a forester
- Ask fellow forest owners which
foresters they know
- Review the list of DEC Cooperating
- Contact timber management companies
or foresters listed in telephone directories and web pages
- Contact the NYS DEC regional
office in your area, Cornell Cooperative Extension, or your
county Soil and Water Conservation District.
Questions you can ask a forester, before you hire them:
- How long have you worked as
a professional forester?
- Where have you been working
and with what kinds of forests?
- What is your educational background?
- Are you a current member of
Society of American Foresters (SAF), New York Institute of Consulting
Foresters (NYICF), or the Association of Consulting Foresters
of America (ACF)?
- What training have you attended
- What are your fees, and what
services do you provide?
- Are you associated with a saw
mill or wood products firm?
- Can you provide references from
previous clients and /or agencies?
- Would you sign a contract that
details the services you will provide?