First, we should probably describe a consulting forester. In a nutshell, a consulting forester is a natural resource professional who is qualified to practice forestry for the benefit of society. In 1989, North Carolina defined a consulting forester under state law (General Statute 89-B) as one who:
- is registered by the State Board of Registration for Foresters;
- is an educated professional;
- is governed by the SAF Code of Ethics;
- is competent to practice forestry for the benefit of society; and
- has not engaged in any practice that would constitute a conflict of interest or in
- any way diminish his ability to represent the best interests of his clients.
The consulting forester you choose should meet the following requirements:
- Be qualified under the state law.
- A graduate of a forestry curriculum, accredited by the Society of American Foresters.
- Experienced, something for which there are no shortcuts. A few years experience as a timber buyer, before becoming a consultant, is not adequate. Active, full time employment as a consultant, for a minimum of 5 years (the more the better) is a must.
- Knowledgeable of the timber markets and buyers in your area.
- Conduct his business in a professional manner, with a minimum of a properly staffed business office open to the public during normal business hours.
- Must be able to show that the company will have the ability to look after your business, even if the individual becomes unavailable for some reason such as illness.
- Able to show that he continues to develop his skills through continuing education, such as being qualified as a Certified Forester CF, which requires extensive continuing education beyond the basic requirements of registration programs.
There are also a couple of things your consultant should not be:
- He should not be connected in any way with a wood using company.
- He should never be in the position of buying timber.
Keep in mind that good consulting foresters are professionals, the same as your doctor, attorney or accountant. You should therefore expect professional fees for professional services. Remember the old adage “You get what you pay for!” Don’t let that alarm you though. His services will pay for themselves in higher timber prices at the time of the sale or in improved future timber quality. Studies by NC State University Extension have shown that landowners who use consultants get 20-50% more for their timber.
Finally, make sure you are comfortable with your selection. Check his references. You should have confidence in your consulting forester’s ability to look after your interests. He will become an integral and valuable resource for accomplishing your management objectives, both now and in the future.
Reprint from “Forest Management News” 2001, Newsletter 4, Volume 21 Number 1, published by Timber Marketing & Management of the Carolinas, Inc.