What is Professional Forestry?

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.

Watch the video: It’s Not All About Logging.

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.

Reserved Practice of Professional Forestry

Regulated practice defines the broad area of practice where FPBC must regulate registrants.
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 RFT is needed and legally required.

Click the image to see full PDF infographic of the different types of forestry practice areas.

Forest Professionals are Accountable

Professional Forestry is a Regulated Profession

Like other regulated professions such as lawyers, accountants, doctors, dentists, and engineers, anyone practicing professional forestry must be registered with and meet specific standards set by the profession’s regulator, FPBC. A registrant who does not follow FPBC standards risks being disciplined and losing their license to practice professional forestry.

Infringement of Practice and Title

It is an offence under the Professional Governance Act (PGA) to undertake reserved forestry practice, or use a reserved title, if not registered with the FPBC. Such offences carry a maximum fine of $200,000 and/or a two-year prison sentence.

Forest Professionals are Highly Educated

Two Main Types of Forest Professionals

  • 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.
  • 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.

To become registered with FPBC and be able to practise professional forestry, all prospective forest professionals must complete a two-year articling process under a sponsoring forest professional and pass 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.

RPFs and RFTs both have reserved practice rights and titles:

  • RPFs are entitled to practice within the full scope of reserved practice;

  • RFTs practice within four broad general areas of reserved practice (forest measurements, silviculture, forest operations, and forest protection);

  • Trainees for both categories are only entitled to practice under supervision until they become either RPFs or RFTs.

Other Forest Practitioners

FPBC also regulates other forest occupations, such as timber cruisers (ATC), silvicultural surveyors (SAS), timber evaluators (ATE), and forest technicians.

Click the image to see full PDF infographic of the different types of forestry practice areas.

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 FPBC.

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 FPBC are legally able to practice 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.

Other Resources

Watch the video: What does a Forest Professional do?

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 the image to see full PDF document.