Becoming a Professional Forester > FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the OPFA?
The Ontario Professional Foresters Association (OPFA) regulates the practice of professional forestry amongst its members and licences individuals to practice professional forestry in the Province of Ontario. OPFA is mandated to carry out its activities under legislation called the Professional Foresters Act, 2000.
OPFA is a member based, non-profit, non-political organization with approximately 800 registered members from all levels of government, industry, private consultants and education.
Individuals may not call themselves a Registered Professional Forester, an R.P.F. or use any similar title that may lead to the belief that they are qualified to practise professional forestry unless they are licensed by the OPFA.
The Governing Council acts as the Board of Directors. The Council consists of at least nine elected members of the Association with representation of at least one Councillor for each of the OPFA’s six regions and five public appointees to Council.
OPFA is committed to actively contributing to the sustainability of Ontario’s forests by assuring the highest professional standards of practice in forestry. OPFA will carry out this mandate by:
- Advocating the highest standards of practice;
- Establishing and enforcing high standards of professionalism among members;
- Promoting competency and continuing education among members;
- Influencing forest policy; and
- Enhancing public awareness.
OPFA is dedicated to regulating its members and ensuring the highest standards in the practice of professional forestry, and in advancing the practice and awareness of forestry for both public and privately owned lands in the province of Ontario.
Membership in OPFA is open to anyone who has or is seeking a career in the forestry profession.
What do Professional Foresters do?
Registered Professional Foresters (R.P.F.) are responsible for looking after Ontario’s forests. R.P.F.’s form part of the professional forestry team responsible for planning and approving all activities related to forest management. They make decisions such as when, where and how to harvest and reforest areas. They also ensure the long-term protection of forest values including fish, wildlife and water.
Registered Professional Foresters are committed to:
- the sound management of Ontario’s forests;
- the highest professional standards of practice;
- public accountability for their actions;
- the principles of stewardship and sustainability; and
- adherence to a Code of Ethics.
The complete definition of what a Professional Forester does is set out in legislation. In summary it includes anything to do with the development, management, conservation and sustainability of forests, including urban forests, which requires post secondary education and experience (professional expertise and judgement), unless it is specifically excluded (e.g. other professions working within their scope of practice). For precise details refer to the Professional Foresters Act, 2000.
There are over 900 Registered Professional Foresters in Ontario today. Today’s foresters pursue careers to ensure a healthy future for both people and the environment. Careers range from practical day to day management of our forests to conducting cutting-edge scientific research in a variety of forestry related disciplines. Traditional forestry careers have included forest management for the production of timber, pulp and paper and other wood products and overseeing timber harvesting operations while protecting environmental values including fish and wildlife habitat.
Advances in forestry and our understanding of ecology mean that the modern forester must have a holistic view of the forest. Foresters consider wildlife, fires, insect and disease reduction, aesthetics, recreation, water protection and the environment when they undertake their work. Foresters have always worked to breed the healthiest seeds and planting stock.
Today they face the challenge of creating trees that will adapt to the new environmental conditions expected from climate change. Examples of some forestry careers are Chief Forester, Woodlands Manager, Urban Forester, Private Land Forest Consultant, Silvicultural Specialist, Forest Ecologist, Area Forester and new careers are being established every day. Urban forestry is the fastest growing career choice for professional foresters.
The functions and accountabilities of an R.P.F. address many forest and landscape scale issues including the design of complex forest management regimes to achieve long-term outcomes. There are many specialties within forestry, and R.P.F.’s are experts in areas like entomology, ecology, hydrology, silviculture, road planning and numerous other fields.
The following list of job titles is a sample of the diverse and varied jobs available to Registered Professional Foresters:
- Forestry Manager, Operations
- Forestry Superintendent
- Watershed Management Planner
- Watershed Restoration Specialist
- Forest Ecologist
- Forest Habitat Specialist
- Forest Health Officer
- Divisional Forester
- Urban Forester
- Biodiversity Forester
- Silvicultural Forester
- Forestry Analyst
- Compliance & Enforcement Coordinator
- Integrated Resource Management Officer
- Consulting Forester
- Woodlands Manager
- Chief Forester
Why would I need a Professional Forester?
By employing the services of a Registered Professional Forester, individuals receive a variety of services and benefits.
Get the most value and enjoyment from your forest now and in the future with the help of a Registered Professional Forester (R.P.F). R.P.F.’s can provide you with expert advice on timber harvesting, tree planting, recreational planning and wildlife habitat management. They can also do the work for you.
Registered Professional Foresters have the diverse knowledge and experience to advise you on the technical, ecological and financial aspects of managing a woodland. All R.P.F.’s have a degree in forestry from an accredited university (or equivalent education certified by the Ontario Professional Foresters Association) and essential practical experience.
An R.P.F. can:
- Help develop goals and strategies for realizing the long-term potential of woodlands;
- Provide information on suitable reforestation and woodland improvements;
- Prepare a management plan to outline and implement any actions you may be considering;
- Develop recommendations on the management of wildlife habitat.
Natural Area Interpretation
An R.P.F. can assess your woodland by:
- Identifying the range of social, economic, recreational and aesthetic value present in your woodland;
- Providing an estimate of timber volume and value in the woodland;
- Assisting you with negotiating and drafting a logging contract;
- Supervising trail development, wildlife habitat development and other activities to ensure your interests are protected;
- Ensuring your activities in the woodland follow government bylaws and guidelines.
R.P.F.’s can provide woodland owners with natural area information by:
- Evaluating the diversity of species and habitats of your woodland;
- Mapping the ecological characteristics of your property;
- Assessing the sustainability of the forest and natural heritage values.
The Ontario Professional Foresters Association has a long tradition of striving for improved standards, legislation and forest management programs in Ontario for both public and private lands.
For more information on Registered Professional Foresters and what they can do for you, contact the OPFA office.
Can I find a Professional Forester by name or location?
Yes. Once you access the OPFA Consultants List you can search for a Professional Forester by name or by location/nearest centre.
How can I make a complaint?
If you have a concern about a member of the association, you should first speak to the member unless there are reasons why this would be inappropriate. You should explain why you are not satisfied and discuss with the member what could be done to resolve matters. Many cases can be easily resolved in this manner.
If you cannot resolve concerns this way, you have the right to make a formal complaint to the Association. This must be done by filling out a form available for this purpose and sending it to the Registrar. If you need help filling out the form, contact Association staff for assistance. Only complaints filed using the Associations ‘complaint form’ can be acted upon by OPFA.
Ontario Professional Foresters Association Complaint Form (PDF)
Your complaint will be investigated unless it is outside the responsibility of the Association, or the complaint is minor and is resolved informally by association staff with your consent. If your complaint is more complicated it will be referred to the Complaints Committee. However, the Committee shall refuse to consider and investigate a complaint if, in its opinion, (a) the complaint does not relate to professional misconduct, unskilled practice or incapacity on the part of a member, or (b) the complaint is frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of process. Otherwise, the Committee will then write to the member providing the member with the particulars of the complaint. The member must provide a response which will be shared with you. If the response does not lead to a resolution, the Committee will investigate your complaint.
The Committee, in accordance with the information it receives, may dismiss the complaint, take action it considers appropriate in the circumstances (which could include offering advice or a warning to the member, or referring the matter to another committee of the association for education or skills upgrading) or refer the matter to the Discipline Committee for a hearing. Generally, only the most serious cases will be referred to the Discipline Committee.
Proceedings before the Complaints Committee are not open to the public, and are usually conducted based solely on written submissions.
The Discipline Committee hears and determines allegations of incapacity, professional misconduct or unskilled practice of forestry made against members (Discipline Process). The parties to the hearing, which is open to the public, are the Association and the member who is the subject of the complaint. If the Committee finds the member guilty, it may impose a range of penalties which could include a reprimand, a fine up to $10,000, a suspension, or a revocation of the member’s certificate of registration.
The Association will keep you informed of the progress of your complaint. In order to protect the rights of complainants and members, and to avoid possible prejudice to the process, the Association will not comment publicly or otherwise provide information on a complaint or an investigation unless it is referred to the Discipline Committee for a public hearing.
For further information on the complaints and discipline process, please contact the Registrar.
Am I limited in what I can do on my own land?
This is a many-faceted question but, essentially, private woodlot owners have ownership of the resource on their land and can establish whatever management objectives are desired. Licensing does not prevent individual woodlot owners from personally practicing forestry on their own land, and whether or not their objectives are appropriate will be governed by other laws and regulations, i.e., provincial, municipal, etc., not the Professional Foresters Act, 2000.
Woodlot owner rights are a specific exemption in the new Act to ensure that they will not be infringed upon. However, if a woodlot owner requests an R.P.F. to have input into the development of management prescriptions, etc.; the R.P.F. would be required to evaluate the objectives for technical appropriateness and decline to participate if they are in conflict with accepted standards of practice or the OPFA’s Code of Ethics. Having accepted the project and the owner’s objectives, an R.P.F. must carry them out within the parameters of professional ethics and standards of practice. This could be seen as a major advantage to the landowner in having R.P.F. input.
How could I save property tax?
The Province of Ontario has several programs to assist Landowners and reduce property taxes. A Professional Forester can help you in understanding these programs and developing plans and applications.
Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program [MFTIP]
The Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program offers a reduction in property taxes to landowners of forested land who prepare a plan and agree to be good stewards of their property. The MFTIP guide explains how to prepare a plan that is eligible for the program. Basic MFTIP Qualifications include:
- greater than 9.88 acres (four ha) of forested land and owned by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
- a commitment to good stewardship
- Landowners must prepare (or have prepared) a management plan for a 20 year period. This plan includes a 10-year operating plan specifying the management actions to be carried out in the coming five years. The Plan must be approved by a Managed Forest Plan Approver.
The Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program (CLTIP)
The Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program offers a reduction in property taxes to landowners who agree to protect the natural heritage feature(s) identified by MNRF on their land. Activities that would degrade, destroy, or result in the loss of the natural values of the site are not allowed.
Eligible lands include: provincially significant wetlands; provincially significant areas of natural and scientific interest (ANSI); habitat of endangered species; lands designated as Escarpment Natural Area in the Niagara Escarpment Plan; and community conservation lands (applies only to eligible conservation agencies).
- MNRF has informed you that there is conservation land on your property
- a commitment to good land stewardship
Registered Professional Foresters (OPFA members) may be able to assist you in providing advice in preparing your management plan. Those members who are Managed Forest Plan Approvers are included on the list available from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry offices and the two partners for the Program – Ontario Forestry Association and Ontario Woodlot Association. Contact the OPFA office for these names or visit Consulting Registered Professional Foresters, who are Plan Approvers and do forestry consulting. See also our brochure “Managing Your Woodlands” which outlines the various aspects the professional forester could provide.
An audit of your Plan is required at the end of each 10-year plan. This can be completed by the landowner. At that time an updated approved 10-year operating plan must also be approved and submitted. An audit of your plan is required on exiting the program.
The landowners benefit under the program through obtaining a much improved knowledge of the forest values as a result of having completed a Management Plan and paying reduced land taxes for the managed woodlot. The work to be carried out will be set out in a 10-year operating plan. This plan and the details of the woodland inventory will serve the owner in future years and be an asset in transfer of the property to relatives or on sale to others. A Registered Professional Forester can assist you.
For additional information on the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program, landowners may also wish to contact one of the following:
OPFA’s List of Consulting Registered Professional Foresters
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry – email: MFTIP@ontario.ca
Managing Forests on Private Lands (MFTIP)
Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program (CLTIP)
Ontario Woodlot Association
For Resource Materials:
Landowner Resource Centre (LRC)
The Ontario Professional Foresters Association has a long tradition of striving for better standards, legislation, and forest management programs in Ontario for both public and private lands.
For more information on the OPFA members who are Managed Forest Plan Approvers , see the List of Consulting Registered Professional Foresters for additional information on forestry and woodlands issues.
Professional Foresters may become involved in Municipal Forest Conservation By-Laws.See Questions and Answers, “Professional Foresters Act, 2000” pertaining to Forest Conservation By-laws in Southern Ontario (PDF).
For more information on Registered Professional Foresters and woodlands issues, contact the OPFA.