Forest Management 6: Consulting Foresters

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Idaho's Fire Hazard Management Laws

In this edition of the Forester Forum


You can see professionals in every line of work. Forestry is no exception.

A consulting forester knows the technical aspects of forestry, including the inner workings of the marketplace for wood products. They are experienced and skilled and are recognized as experts in their field. Professional consulting foresters blend the art and science of managing forest ecosystems. Their business is providing forestry expertise to your needs.

What is a Consulting Forester?

Educated: Generally, consulting foresters are well educated, hold a bachelor of science degree or higher in forestry or some closely related field. They are versed in silviculture, botany, soils, economics, forest engineering, hydrology, ecology, forest insects and diseases, marketing and other disciplines.

Experienced: Consultants have usually gained diverse experience in your area. They are knowledgeable about local markets, tree species, geology, contractors, laws, and practices.

Competent and Professional: Years of education and experience make consultants good people to approach with your forestry needs. Like any professional, their goal is to serve you.

What Can a Consulting Forester Do?

Consultants are knowledgeable about their special aspects of forestry. Typical services include: developing management plans, conducting timber inventories, appraising land, planning harvests, marking trees, writing contracts, marketing wood products, and administering forest management projects such as logging, thinning, or planting.

Utilizing a consultant often has hidden advantages for the landowner. Greater revenues are realized; better forestry is applied; fewer or no headaches are encountered; and a forest with a future is left standing for the landowner to use and enjoy. In addition to timber management goals, consulting foresters can also help you realize goals for wildlife, clean water and aesthetics.

If you are a woodlot owner, consulting foresters benefit you.

What to Look for in a Consultant

Ethics: True consultants regard ethics as the foundation of their business. They are quick to point out the following standards. Look for these attributes when hiring a consultant:

  1. Their services are available to the general public.
  2. They represent their client, solely.
  3. They harbor no undisclosed interests that would conflict with the interests of their clients.
  4. They comply with all local, state, and federal laws and requirements.

References: Consultants are proud to offer references. They will emphasize work they have accomplished in the past and share their track record on forest practice compliance with IDL. Also, check for educational credentials and ties to professional forestry associations, such as the Association of Consulting Foresters (ACF) and the Society of American Foresters (SAF).

Management Alternatives: Hire a forester who can offer several management alternatives. These ideas should revolve around your land management objectives.

Accounting: Look for someone with an accounting procedure that does a good job of documenting revenues and expenses.

How Are Consultants Paid?

Payments for services rendered can vary greatly, depending on the job being done. Usually, the first consultation is free. This gives the landowner and forester a chance to get acquainted. If a timber harvest is conducted, the consultant’s fee may be charged as a percentage of the sale revenue. Sometimes, the consultant is paid a set price per unit volume harvested (i.e., X amount of dollars per thousand board feet). Flat rate payments for services are also common, especially when no timber is harvested.

It is important to check with several consultants. Shop around for the services and value that will best meet your needs. Many consultants will tailor their programs to fit you and your management goals. Remember, the consulting forester works for you! Meeting your needs should be his top priority.

Finding a Consultant

Consultants often advertise in trade journals or the yellow pages of your telephone directory.  Idaho Department of Lands Private Forestry Specialists can also make referrals.  Contact your local IDL office for further information about forestry consultants. 

Questions? Find an IDL Private Forestry Specialist

Help is Only a Click Away

The Idaho Department of Lands has more than a dozen Private Forestry Specialists that cover the state and assist private forest landowners and communities with the common goal of improving forest health. Use our interactive map to find a Private Forestry Specialist at an IDL Supervisory Area offices near you. Services include technical and educational assistance to help forest owners maintain their property, create and enhance forest habitat and maximize financial benefits as well as wildfire recovery.