Every time I meet someone new, the question, “What do you do for a living?” eventually comes up. But when I start to tell them about being a consulting forester, they seem to have very little (if any) idea what that means. Usually, they are pretty familiar with the real estate/sales portion of my job because they’ve either had a personal experience with a realtor when purchasing a home or watched one of the many reality TV shows on the HGTV channel. But as I continue to explain everything else my job entails, I can see them picturing me in a tower looking for forest fires, cutting down trees or just walking around hunting all day.
In the state of Alabama (where I work), people that represent themselves as professional foresters are required to be registered (licensed) by a state board. Registration requires a four-year degree in forestry, two years of job experience in forestry and a trip to Montgomery to take a lengthy test that focuses on general knowledge and ethics. There is also an annual continuing education requirement of 10 hours to maintain eligibility for registration. And there is a fiduciary responsibility to the client. So, being a consulting forester is not that much different from being a real estate salesperson.
A consulting forester uses his knowledge of science, ecology, operations, chemicals, contractors, local markets and more to help landowners achieve their goals and objectives for their property. One of the main functions of a consulting forester is selling timber. During the sale, landowners benefit from a forester’s services by having a third party that is there to monitor the progress of the sale. A forester also keeps up with settlement payments to ensure proper payments have been made for the timber cut, helps prevent destructive logging practices and makes sure that any excessive damage is repaired. When the sale is complete, a consulting forester can also help the landowner establish a timber basis. And according to a landowner’s goals, foresters can arrange and monitor site preparation and help with reforestation activities.
Whether you have a small property or a large land portfolio, consulting foresters can help with anything from harvest planning or stand treatments (prescribed burns, releases, etc.) to property taxes, hunting leases and even record keeping. They can also aid with timber stand appraisal and preventing invasive species outbreaks.
The average landowner will not need the services of a consulting forester on a continuous basis. But, it is still a good idea to have a working relationship with one because you never know when a situation may arise that even seasoned landowners may need some help with.
Over the next several weeks, we’ll be talking more timber. So, stay tuned for the rest of this series!