Why Choose Us
ACF Foresters of NC
Code of Ethics
WHAT IS A CONSULTING FORESTER?
A consulting forest is an independent natural resource professional who has accrued the education and experience necessary to provide forestry services to the public on a fee or contractual basis.
A consulting forester represents, for a fee, the best interests of their clients in all matters concerning the forest. As an independent consulting forester, they work solely in the interest of their client. They do not have an allegiance to a specific timber company, nor do they act as timber dealers who buy stumpage from a landowner and then sell it at a higher price.
In a general sense, a consulting forester is to a woodland owner what an architect is to a home builder. He provides the landowner with designs, recommendations and possibilities to achieve the owner’s objectives for the property. They are also like a financial planner; in that they evaluate your forest (your portfolio) and help you maximize their returns through activities that will enhance or improve their growth or achieve your objectives. Some low producing forests will be liquidated or improved to make room for more aggressive growth and economic returns.
NOT ALL FORESTERS ARE CONSULTING FORESTERS
Prior to 1989 anyone – regardless of qualifications – anyone could call themselves a “consulting forester” in North Carolina. Since then, state law (General Statute 89-B) defines a “consulting forester” as one who:
- Is registered by the State Board of Registration for Foresters;
- Is a college-educated or has passed a written exam administered by the board;
- Is governed by a 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 would in any way diminish his ability to represent the best interests of his clients.
WHEN DO YOU NEED A CONSULTING FORESTER?
The less you know about forestry and the less time you can spend and commit to your woodlands, the more you need a consulting forester. Good management is the key to profitability. Growing timber is profitable, but it is complex. Increasingly, taxes, legal, and environmental constraints affect forest management. Prices, products and their market fluctuate. There are new management techniques, practices and products. Owning timberland can be a specialized and competitive business, and proper management is the key to profit in the future. Using a consulting forester can enhance your success.
The most obvious and familiar benefit of engaging a consulting forester is their ability to take on the role of marketing and sale of your timber and other products. However, the greater benefit of working with a forestry consultant is their capacity to advise you on how to conduct a timber sale to meet your objectives. Not only can they help you sell your forest products, but they can help you determine what products will be sold, and they can oversee the entire logging operation. In doing so they help make sure your desires and objectives, as well as the health and care of your forest land, are the top priority. In addition, they can counsel you on how to protect and enhance the environment throughout the sale. They are familiar with environmental regulations and restriction, particularly with water quality and threatened and endangered species. They can ensure that appropriate habitats are protected, and logging roads are laid out properly, and the forest soils are protected. Your objectives are unique, and a forestry consultant’s goal is to understand those goals and help you maximize them. They will have a number of lengthy conversations with you that will give you the reassurance that your harvesting decision, along with all the terms of the sale, are based on professional recommendations that best meet your needs. This peace of mind that accompanies this confidence is perhaps the greatest benefit to working with a professional forester as your agent.
Research conducted by professors at Mississippi State University, North Carolina State University, and the neutral independent Forest2Market marketing company concluded that in general forestry consultants consistently get more money for the landowner when they sell the timber than the landowner would if they sold it on their own. Buta more important point is that forest landowners will get their money’s worth if they hire a consulting forester to MANAGE their land and their timber; and that timber sales are just part of the management services they provide.
Consulting foresters don’t just assist larger landowners or only work on tracts with larger volumes. They work with small landowners too. The research shows that consulting foresters can consistently generate increases in total bids received from both large and small landowners. Financial gain is certainly not the only objective a forest landowner wants to achieve from involving a forestry consultant. A forestry consultant will work with you to also improve the overall health of the stand, improve wildlife habitat for certain species, and improve the growth of higher quality trees in your woods. They can also assist with reforestation planning and oversight to adequately regenerate new vigorous forests following harvest. They can assist you in locating cost-share assistance to help pay for practices. Having a consultant involved will offer these other value-added benefits that are in the best interest of the landowner and the sustainability of their woodlands.
WHY CHOOSE AN ACF CONSULTING FORESTER OVER A CONSULTING FORESTER?
“If you see ACF after a forester’s name, you know you are working with a true professional.”
The Association of Consulting Foresters (ACF), sets the highest set of standards for consulting forester education, and ACF membership is a key measure of professional standing in consulting forestry.
Of the 248 consulting foresters in North Carolina, only 47 are ACF members. Membership in ACF is considered the gold standard in North Carolina for consulting foresters. If you see ACF after your foresters name you know you are working with a true professional.
“If someone calls me looking for a consulting forester, and they are outside my work area, I always refer them to two or three ACF member that do work int their area, because I know they are going to be working with a forester that holds themselves to a set of higher standards and accountability” David Halley, RF/ACF
We are a rare association organized around ethical standards. Holding to the standards of our Code of Ethics is a requirement for membership; it forms the founding principles of our organization. That commitment is one of the reasons ACF members are revered as premier forest consultants, called upon by landowners across the country to advance their individual goals for their wooded acres.
To qualify for Full ACF membership, one must:
- Be a graduate of a recognized professional forestry or natural resources degree granting program;
- Have at least five years or more of practical forestry administration, management, or other special forestry classification;
- Be an individual whose principle business activity is forestry consulting work to the to the public on a fee or contract basis;
- Have no economic interest in timber purchasing or timber procurement entity wherein a potential conflict of Interest may exist in serving the public;
- Comply with ACF’s professional and ethical standards; and
- Obtain 20 hours of relevant continuing education every two years.
ACF consulting forester are among the nation’s premier forestry professionals -working with one gives you the assurance that you follow ever-changing local, state and national regulations. Who better to help you develop a sustainable plan to make your acres profitable and enjoyable?
Under an ACF Consulting Forester’s guidance:
ACF consulting foresters cannot buy timber and must always work in the landowner’s best interest. So, you get unbiased advice and expert options for securing the best price for your trees.
Being in the know on using up-to-date practices, an ACF consulting forester guides you in adding to, preserving and regenerating tree growth to deliver a more consistent and robust harvest.
Working with an ACF consulting forester is educational. Along with helping you develop a plan to achieve your vision, he or she can provide options. An ACF consulting forester provides you with keen insight to explore your land’s potential in economically viable ways.
An ACF consulting forester has an ethical commitment to stay current on issues that affect your ownership and enjoyment of the land. ACF consulting foresters are continually learning through publications, national and regional meetings and member-to-member sharing.
That is why ACF consulting foresters are savvy observers of what is happening in your forest and are up to date on state and federal regulations. In today’s highly regulated environment, you can rest assured an ACF consulting forester is looking out for you.
HOW DO YOU SELECT A FORESTY CONSULTANT?
A landowner should request information from several consulting foresters before selecting one. Be sure to obtain the forester’s specific qualifications, references and fee schedule. If you see ACF after your consultant’s name you know you are off to a good start in the selection process.
Be sure they are a consulting forester. Make sure they qualify as a Consulting Forester under State Law. This law helps protect you from unqualified individuals who have not met the educational requirements and ethical standards of professional consulting foresters.
To get a more complete picture, here are a few questions you should ask any consulting forester you are considering:
- Did you graduate from an accredited university forestry program?
- How long have you been in practice? Do you practice full time?
- Are you in any way connected with a wood-using company? Do you buy timber?
The responses to these questions are critical in selecting a reputable, fully qualified, consulting forester. For the record all ACF consulting foresters can answer: “Yes”, “Several years”, “Yes”, “No” and “No”. Selecting an ACF consulting forester helps assure that you made a good choice.
Second, discuss the estimated cost for services rendered by the consulting forester. Be sure to consider experience and reputation when discussing estimated costs and you need to take into account that ACF consulting foresters are professionals. Remember the adage: “You get what you pay for!” Don’t let that alarm you. You should expect professional fees for professional services. In nearly all cases, the services of an ACF consulting forester more than pay for themselves either through higher timber prices received or through increased future timber quality and value.
Once a qualified consulting forester has been selected, you should have a written agreement explaining your responsibilities and those of the consultant. This is by far the best way to avoid misunderstandings later. The agreement should include a description of the services to be performed and the associated costs. By all means, do not presume a written agreement indicates a lack of trust between the parties. A written contract is simply good business?