Professional Forestry, Not What You Think it Is
The practice of professional forestry means providing advice or services in relation to trees, forests, forest lands, forest resources, forest transportation systems, or forest ecosystems.
Professional forestry encompasses a range of diverse jobs that can occur in the forest or in an office where plans and policies are decided and includes planning, advising, directing, approving, supervising, engaging in, and reporting services.
Services may relate to inventory, classification, valuation, appraisal, conservation, protection, management, enhancement, harvesting, silviculture, and rehabilitation of trees, forest lands, forest resources, forest transportation systems, and forest ecosystems.
The practice of professional forestry was also described in the former Foresters Act to include, but was not limited to:
- Advising or directing corrective action as required to conserve, protect, manage, rehabilitate, or enhance forests, forest lands, forest resources, or forest ecosystems;
- Preparing, reviewing, amending, and approving professional documents, professional work, or opinions;
- Assessing the impact of professional forestry activities to verify that those activities have been carried out as planned, directed, or advised;
- Confirming that the goals, objectives, or commitments related to professional forestry activities have been met;
- Auditing, examining, and verifying the results of professional forestry activities and the attainment of goals and objectives identified in or under professional documents;
- Planning, locating, and approving forest transportation systems, including forest roads; and
- Assessing, estimating, and analyzing the capability of forest lands to provide timber while recognizing public values related to the forest and forest ecosystems.
Watch the video: It's Not All About Logging
Trusted to Care for BC's Forests
Two Main Types of Forest Professionals
- Registered Professional Forester (RPF): Commonly holds a four-year post-secondary degree and is involved in all aspects of managing the forest and how it will be used and cared for.
- Registered Forest Technologist (RFT): Commonly holds a two-year post-secondary diploma and is mainly involved in technical forest management activities, such as forest measurements, silviculture, forest operations, and forest protection.
Forest Professionals Adhere to Strict Professional Standards
- Follow nine Standards of Ethical and Professional Conduct: competence, independence, conflict of interest, due diligence, integrity, forest stewardship, safety, professionalism, and reporting.
- Maintain their competence through continuing professional development and only doing work they are competent to do.
- Report the unethical behavior or poor practice and conduct of other professionals;
- Agree to be subject to random audits, practice reviews, investigations, and if warranted, discipline by the ABCFP.
Watch the video: What does a Forest Professional do?
Forest Professionals are Highly Educated
- Registered forest professionals must hold either a four-year science degree (RPF) or a two-year technology diploma (RFT) that fulfils the nation-wide forest competency standards.
- To become registered with the ABCFP, they must complete a two-year articling process under a sponsoring forest professional and passing a series of licensure examinations about:
- professional and ethical concepts;
- application of professional principles to practice;
- BC environmental laws;
- Indigenous Peoples history, rights, and more.
Forestry requires a diverse range of responsibilities in and out of the forest.
Professional Forestry Practice Areas
Practice areas reflect work that is usual and customary to the practice of professional forestry, requiring professional judgment and a body of procedures, practice guidance, research, and/or professional development to support forest professionals in effectively undertaking this work.
Within each these professional forestry practice areas, some or all of the specific decisions, advice, tasks, or services are reserved. This means that by law, only a registered forest professional can be hired to do the work. This ensures forests stay healthy over time by allowing only those with the proper education, experience, and who follow a set of professional standards, undertake the work.
If the work you are hiring for involves any of these practice areas, it likely requires the experience, education, or technical knowledge of a registered forest professional (e.g., RPF or RFT).
See the full list of professional forest practice areas (click on image for PDF version):
Forest Professionals are Accountable
Professional Forestry is a Regulated Profession
Like other regulated professions such as lawyers, accountants, doctors, dentists, and engineers, anyone practising professional forestry must be registered with and meet specific standards set by the profession’s regulator, the Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP). A registrant who does not follow ABCFP standards risks being disciplined and losing their licence to practise professional forestry.
Practice of Professional Forestry
Regulated practice defines the broad area of practice where the ABCFP must regulate registrants. The regulated practice of professional forestry means the provision of advice or services in relation to trees, forests, forest lands, forest resources, forest transportation systems, or forest ecosystems.
Reserved practice means the advice and services provided can only be done by a registered forest professional. This applies when the advice or services of the regulated practice could impact the protection of the environment or affect the safety, health, and welfare of the public. In these circumstances, the experience or technical knowledge of a professional forester (RPF) or registered forest technologist (RFT) is needed and legally required.
Registered Professional Foresters (RPF) and Registered Forest Technologists (RFT) both have reserved practice rights and titles. RPFs are entitled to practise within the full scope of reserved practice, while RFTs practise within four broad general areas of reserved practice (forest measurements, silviculture, forest operations, and forest protection). Trainees for both categories are only entitled to practise under supervision until they become either RPFs or RFTs.
Other Forest Practitioners
The ABCFP also regulates other forest occupations, such as timber cruisers (ATC), silvicultural surveyors (SAS), timber evaluators (ATE), and forest technicians.
Infringement of Practice and Title
It is an offence under the Professional Governance Act to undertake reserved forestry practice, or use a reserved title, if not registered with the ABCFP. Such offences carry a maximum fine of $200,000 and/or a two-year prison sentence.
Click on the infographic to see (PDF) of different types of regulated forestry practices:
Hiring a Forest Professional Ensures You Have the Right Skills
Reduce Environmental and Operating Risks
Hiring a forest professional reduces environmental risks and operating risks as well as other liabilities involved in forest management by getting someone who is competent with the right education, skills, and experience, who will follow the law and professional standards of practice when managing or implementing forestry-related work.
Achieve Social Licence
The public trusts forest professionals to be competent and to follow the laws governing the use of forests and the environment while balancing the health and sustainability of forests. For 20 years, independent public opinion research finds the public ranks forest professionals as the most trusted source for providing information regarding BC’s forest resources.
It’s the Law
Only those licensed by and registered with the Association of BC Forest Professionals are legally able to practise professional forestry in BC, no matter how knowledgeable they are about forests.
Who Hires Forest Professionals?
Forest professionals work for a wide range of employers, including:
- Indigenous, municipal, and provincial governments;
- forest companies;
- forest and environmental consulting firms;
- other natural resource companies; and
- forest research and academic institutions.
Learn How Forest Professionals Manage BC’s Forests for Public Benefit
Learn more about BC’s registered forest professionals and the practice of forestry in our brochure, Trusted to Care for BC's Forests and Forest Lands (click on image for full PDF document):