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Choosing a Private Consulting Forester

Many woodlot owners benefit from the services of a private consulting forester to handle specific tasks, or to provide overall management services. A forester is a person who has earned a bachelor's degree, or higher, from a college having an accredited forestry program.

Foresters provide many helpful services, including planning, timber stand improvement consultation, appraisals, and all elements of a timber sale, such as marking, bidding, contracts, and monitoring the actual harvest operation. Some consulting foresters also have extensive experience in timber theft investigation and court testimony, while others have developed a specialization of forest real estate and taxation, recreation, wildlife management, or other areas.

Since the knowledge and experience of the foresters can vary so widely, talk with several of them about the nature of the services you require, obtain cost estimates, and get references. Speak with the foresters' former clients, and ultimately choose a consulting forester who both meets your personal needs and with whom you feel comfortable.

Please remember that one difference between DEC foresters and private consulting foresters is that while DEC foresters can give expert assistance and advice, they do not have time for extensive personal service. Consulting foresters, on the other hand, can provide as much individual service as needed, and can also perform any follow-up services you may require.

The Department of Environmental Conservation's booklet, The NYS Cooperating Consultant Forester Program, lists those foresters who have agreed to adhere to New York's timber management standards, and the Society of American Forester's code of ethics , which covers such areas as loyalty to the employer's/owner's interests, performing only those services for which he or she is qualified through education and experience, and avoiding conflicts of interest.

Working with Your Forester

Your consulting forester may base his or her fees on the amount of time required to perform the job, the acreage of the woodlot involved, or a proportion of the revenues from the harvest. Cost should be one of your considerations in choosing a consulting forester, but also remember that the forester's experience, his or her past performance record, and his or her understanding of your objectives are equally important.

Once you select a consulting forester, you may find it helpful to draw up a contract or written agreement to help detail the services the forester is to perform. It is important that each party has a clear understandng of what is to be done, by whom, and in what timeframe.

Finally, keep in touch with your forester so that you know what he or she is doing regarding the services for your property, and also so you can address any concerns you may have as the forester's work progresses.

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