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Information for Forestry Students
Welcome to the Ontario Professional Foresters Association
The Ontario Professional Foresters Association is responsible for licensing and regulating the practice of professional forestry in Ontario in accordance with the Professional Foresters Act, 2000. Its key mandate is to serve and protect the public. Anyone legally practising professional forestry in Ontario must be a member.
What do I need to do to become a professional forester?
You must be a registered OPFA member (Registered Professional Forester (R.P.F.) or an Associate member with a limited scope of practice (Assoc.)) to work in professional forestry in Ontario.
What are the main requirements?
To become a Registered Professional Forester (R.P.F.) in Ontario you must obtain FULL membership status with OPFA. Use the following web link to find information on FULL Membership Qualifications (refer to article 11.5 in Membership Standards). If, after credential assessment, you do not have all the competencies required for Full membership, you may either continue to work towards Full membership, or you may be considered for Associate membership with a limited Scope of Practice (refer to article 11.6 in Membership Standards).
What is the OPFA?
The Ontario Professional Foresters Association (OPFA) regulates the practice of professional forestry in Ontario and licenses individuals to practise 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 regulatory body 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:
- Establishing and enforcing high standards of professionalism among members;
- Promoting competency and continuing education among members;
- Influencing forest policy;
- Advocating the highest standards of practice; 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.s) are responsible for looking after the forests of Ontario. 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 protection of forest values including fish, wildlife and water.
The practice of professional forestry is the provision of services in relation to the development, management, conservation and sustainability of forests and urban forests where those services require knowledge, training and experience equivalent to that required to become a member under the Professional Foresters Act, 2000. Items included under a forester’s scope of practice are:
- designing, specifying or approving silvicultural prescriptions and treatments, including timber harvesting;
- appraisal, evaluation and certification of forests and urban forests;
- auditing of forest management practices;
- assessment of impacts from planned activities on forests and urban forests;
- classification, inventory and mapping of forests and urban forests; and
- planning and locating of forest transportation systems, including forest roads.
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 Consulting Forester, Chief Forester, Woodlands Manager, Urban Forester, Divisional Forester, Silvicultural Specialist, Compliance and Enforcement, Forestry Analyst, Forest Ecologist, Area Forester, Municipal Forester and new careers are being established every day.
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.
Do I need to become a member?
If you wish to practise professional forestry as defined in the Professional Foresters Act, 2000 you must be a member of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association. The scope of practice for professional forestry in the Act is:
3. (1) The practice of professional forestry is the provision of services in relation to the development, management, conservation and sustainability of forests and urban forests where those services require knowledge, training and experience equivalent to that required to become a member under this Act and includes,
a) the designing, specifying or approving of silvicultural prescriptions and treatments, including timber harvesting;
b) the appraisal, evaluation and certification of forests and urban forests;
c) the auditing of forest management practices;
d) the assessment of impacts from planned activities on forests and urban forests;
e) the classification, inventory and mapping of forests and urban forests; and
f) the planning and locating of forest transportation systems, including forest roads. 2000, c. 18, s. 3 (1).
You do not need to become a member if you decide to practise in a career that is listed as “Acts Not Constituting Professional Forestry” under Ontario Regulation 145/01. For the purposes of clause 3 (2) (b) of the Professional Foresters Act, 2000, a person who performs an act in relation to the management or manipulation of forests that is within the generally accepted scope of any of the following professions, trades or occupations is not practising professional forestry when so acting, unless the person is a registered professional forester. These excluded acts are:
- Natural resource technician and technologist
- Forest management plan approver certified under the “Managed Forest Tax Improvement Program”
- Certified tree marker
- Certified arborist
- Landscape architect
- Professional planner
- Certified Ontario or Canadian land surveyor
- Professional engineer
- Certified property appraisers
- Ecologist. O. Reg. 145/01, s. 4
What is an accredited university program?
Accredited university programs are those that have been formally assessed as meeting specific academic and program standards. required for professional foresters.
Accreditation is a process of education assurance through which formal recognition of the quality and necessary curriculum content of a program of study is conferred by a responsible authority. In the professional forestry context, the Canadian Forestry Accreditation Board (CFAB) is the responsible authority empowered to assess university level programs on behalf of the provincial professional forester/ ingénieurs forestiers regulators. The CFAB conducts its accreditation assessments on a national basis and determines whether the university programs deliver the academic requirements for entrance into the profession. The CFAB conducts these assessments for, and on behalf of, each of the provincial professional regulatory bodies who have agreed, collectively, to abide by the decisions of the CFAB.
A list of accredited university forestry programs in Canada can be found at the Canadian Forestry Accreditation Board (CFAB) website. Canadian Forestry Accreditation Board
How do I apply for membership?
Student membership is available to any person currently enrolled in a post-secondary forestry-related program in Ontario. Student membership is also available to any student in a Canadian Forestry Accreditation Board accredited forestry program elsewhere in Canada. Upon graduation, or when studies cease for any reason, Student membership ends. Any person seeking registered membership in the OPFA first starts with an application for Provisional membership. A Provisional member is not licensed to practise professional forestry. The person will remain a Provisional member while working towards meeting Full or Associate membership requirements (up to six years allowed).
A person shall apply for Student membership by submitting a completed Student Membership Application Form to the Registrar. There is no application fee for Student membership, and no annual fees for membership while a Student member.
Please refer to the Application Process & Forms section of this website for more details, forms and to see when the Registration Committee meets.
What if I am not studying in an accredited university program?
Certain persons who are not enrolled in an accredited forestry program may become members of the OPFA. If you are enrolled in a forestry-related post-secondary program in Ontario, you will qualify for Student membership.
Upon graduation, you must apply for Provisional membership, and when approved, you will undergo the “Credential Assessment Process” (CAP). This assessment determines what competency gaps must be filled for Full membership. You must also meet all other membership requirements for Full or Associate membership.
Please refer to the Application Process & Forms section of this website for more details, flowcharts outlining the various paths to membership, and application forms.
What are the fees?
The following link provides access to OPFA’s current fee schedule.