What is Professional Reliance?
Within forestry, professional reliance is the practice of accepting and relying upon the decisions and advice of forest professionals (Registered Professional Foresters and Registered Forest Technologists) who accept responsibility and can be held accountable for the decisions they make and the advice that they give.
Professional reliance rests on a framework in which:
- forest professionals, having the required education, knowledge, expertise, and experience, apply their judgment and make decisions for which they are accountable to the public through the ABCFP;
- respectful challenges to a forest professional’s decisions are accepted and can be addressed with a sound rationale;
- the rights and obligations of forest professionals are respected and supported by employers, clients, and government; and
- forest professionals follow existing legislation, regulation, and policy established by the government to guide management and protection of the forest and environment.
Supporting this framework is the requirement that forest professionals serve and protect the public interest. The exclusive rights of practice and title are privileges granted to forest professionals by the public who trust and expect that forest professionals will:
- stay abreast of current science, research, theory; and
- apply their expertise wisely as stewards of forests, forest lands, and forest ecosystems, to achieve both long and short-term sustainability of forests, forest lands and forest ecosystems.
A short video explaining professional reliance in the forestry sector:
The Application of Professional Reliance
Professional reliance is commonplace in our society. We rely on the judgement and advice of our doctor when we have to address a health concern. Each time we drive over a bridge we are relying on the knowledge, expertise, and experience of an engineer.
Examples of Professional Reliance in Forestry
The added element to professional reliance is that while we rely on the work of the professional we can also hold them individually accountable for their work. The professional cannot switch jobs, move, or otherwise avoid accountability. This element means that professionals act independently from their employer’s interest and maintain their competence in a specific area of practice. Both independence and competence are hallmarks of professional reliance.
Professional Reliance at Work: Forest Stewardship Plan
A major development project for an area of forest land will be a concern for several forest resource rights holders (forest tenure holders, licensed trapper, recreation lease), regional recreation users, and a regional district government. The planning process is led by a forest professional working for the primary forest tenure holder and will involve the coordination of work by several forest professionals and other resource professionals, all of whom have different skill sets. The sharing of the information between professionals, the scheduling of the work, the implementation of the project, and monitoring of outcomes is essential to achieve the project goals.
Professional Reliance at Work: Peer Review.
A forest professional prepares a forest harvesting prescription for an area. Prior to submitting the harvest prescription for implementation, the forest professional arranges for the prescription to be peer reviewed by another qualified professional.
Professional Reliance (media)
- January 5, 2018 (submission): ABCFP Stakeholder Submission to the BC Government’s Professional Reliance Review. As part of the government’s review of professional reliance, professional associations were invited to make formal submissions. The ABCFP submission contains information about the association, an outline of the professional reliance system and participants in the system, and a suite of recommendations for improvement.
- November 10, 2017 (letter) Joint Letter on Professional Reliance Review. On November 10th, 2017, a joint letter was sent to Jennifer McGuire, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy from several professional associations, including the Association of BC Forest Professionals, Engineers and Geoscientists of BC, the College of Applied Biology, the BC Institute of Agrologists, and the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC. The associations offered to meet with the Ministry as a group to share insights and inform the professional reliance review.
- October 10, 2017 (column): Christine Gelowitz, RPF, ABCFP CEO, published in the Vancouver Sun, Bringing Public Confidence to BC's Forest Management.
- October 3, 2017 (media release): Association of BC Forest Professionals Ready to Participate in Government Review of Professional Reliance.