About Consulting Foresters
A consulting forester provides professional forest management services to landowners. These services may include management plan writing, timber sale administration, permitting, timber marketing, inventory and appraisal, property mapping, management advice, coordination of contractor services, and other tasks. The consultant’s role is to represent the interests of the landowner. As such, it is important for landowners to discuss their goals and objectives with the consultant.
When harvesting and selling timber, some logging companies and mills can provide professional services similar to those of a consultant. However, these professionals ultimately represent the interests of the timber buyers, which creates an inherent conflict of interest when also working for the timber seller (i.e. the landowner). The advantage of a consulting forester is that she or he is independent and represents solely the landowner and thus is best able to pursue the best price for the timber and ensure that contracts protect the landowner from liability.
Consulting foresters range in expertise, experience, and approach. Consultant fees can also vary widely. Consultants may charge for their services in several different ways, such as an hourly rate or a percentage of timber sale proceeds (5-7% is common). Landowners should do some research to find the right forester to meet their needs. Talking to several different consultants and checking references can help landowners make the right selection. A reputable forester will be one who is liked and respected by landowners, loggers, and silvicultural contractors alike
Examples of questions a landowner might want to ask when interviewing a forester include:
- What is your education and experience in forestry?
- What type of services do you offer?
- Do you consult independently, or do you also do logging and/or timber buying?
- What is your philosophy toward forest use and land stewardship?
- How do you get paid?
- How far is your office from my property and do you charge per mile?
- Are you a certified forester or a member of a forestry professional organization?