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FAQs   >   Membership Applicants

Membership Applicants

We encourage you to utilize our full website and read all of the material it has to offer. The website section:  Registration: Application Process & Forms was prepared specifically for individuals applying for membership in the OPFA.  That section has detailed information on how to apply and be registered in one of the various membership categories.

Membership Processes Overview  provides the flowchart of how to become a new member, and then how to proceed to Full or Associate membership, based on your previous training or competencies.


What is the OPFA?

The Ontario Professional Foresters Association (OPFA) regulates the practice of professional forestry in Ontario and licences 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 regulatory body that is member based, non-profit, non-political organization with approximately 900 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 is professional forestry?

The scope of practice for professional forestry in Ontario is detailed in the Professional Forester’s Act, 2000.  The following information comes directly from sections 3(1) and 3(2) of the Act:

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,

  • the designing, specifying or approving of silvicultural prescriptions and treatments, including timber harvesting;
  • the appraisal, evaluation and certification of forests and urban forests;
  • the auditing of forest management practices;
  • the assessment of impacts from planned activities on forests and urban forests;
  • the classification, inventory and mapping of forests and urban forests; an
  • the planning and locating of forest transportation systems, including forest roads.

The practice of professional forestry does not include acts performed in relation to the management or manipulation of forests if they are performed,

  • personally by individuals on land which they own;
  • by a person acting within the scope of practice of a profession, trade or occupation that is listed in the regulations;
  • by persons responding to an emergency situation such as a forest fire;
  • by persons acting under the supervision of a member;
  • by students enrolled in a forestry education program and under the supervision of the course instructor in the program;
  • by a member of the armed forces while on duty; or
  • by a person engaged in scientific research.

What is R.P.F.?

R.P.F. is the professional designation for a Registered Professional Forester. A `R.P.F.’ is an individual who, through membership in one or more of the professional foresters associations in Canada (Québec excluded), is entitled to use a protected title and/or is licensed to practice professional forestry within a defined geographical jurisdiction (province).

In Ontario, professional foresters who are Full or Non-resident members of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association may use the R.P.F. designation.


Who can practise in Ontario?

The Ontario Professional Foresters Association (OPFA) regulates the practice of professional forestry amongst its members and licences individuals to practise professional forestry in the Province of Ontario.  Full, Associate and Non-resident (temporary permit is required) OPFA members are the only members of the Association who are allowed to practise professional forestry in Ontario.


Do I need to be 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,

  • the designing, specifying or approving of silvicultural prescriptions and treatments, including timber harvesting;
  • the appraisal, evaluation and certification of forests and urban forests;
  • the auditing of forest management practices;
  • the assessment of impacts from planned activities on forests and urban forests;
  • the classification, inventory and mapping of forests and urban forests; and
  • 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 on 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:

  1. Natural resource technician and technologist
  2. Forest management plan approver certified under the “Managed Forest Tax Improvement Program”
  3. Certified tree marker
  4. Biologist
  5. Certified arborist
  6. Landscape architect
  7. Professional planner
  8. Certified Ontario or Canadian land surveyor
  9. Botanist
  10. Zoologist
  11. Professional engineer
  12. Certified property appraisers
  13. Agronomist
  14. Ecologist. O. Reg. 145/01, s. 4

What are the types of memberships?

The Association has nine membership categories and they are summarized below. It is important to note that NO Member other than a Member registered and in good standing as a FULL, ASSOCIATE or TEMPORARY Member may use the designation in any way that could lead a member of the public to believe that the person IS QUALIFIED to engage in the practice of professional forestry in Ontario.

Full
An individual with full membership is allowed to freely practice professional forestry in Ontario as it relates to the Scope of Practice*.

Associate
An associate member may only practice in the area(s) of professional forestry and geographic area as defined in their scope of practice in the individual’s certificate of registration*.

Life
Individual was a full, inactive or associate member of the Association for a minimum of 25 years, and who ceases to practice all aspects professional forestry (applies to both paid and volunteer activities).  May use the R.P.F. designation, but is not allowed to practice professional forestry in Ontario.

Honourary
Is a non-member of the Association who has made a significant contribution to forestry in Ontario, and who may use the designation R.P.F. (Hon) and is not allowed to practice professional forestry in the Province.

Provisional
Is an individual working towards their full or associate membership status.  They can maintain membership in this category for a maximum of six years.  They are not allowed to practice professional forestry, except under the direct supervision of a full or associate member.

Student
A person enrolled as an undergraduate in any post-secondary, forestry-related program may apply for registration as a Student Member.  They are not licenced to practice professional forestry.

Inactive
Individual was a full or associate member of the Association who ceases to practice all aspects professional forestry (applies to both paid and volunteer activities), but may still use the R.P.F. designation.  Individual must become a full or associate member if he/she wishes to return to the practice of forestry in Ontario.

Non-Resident
Is a member who resides outside the Province of Ontario and may use the designation R.P.F.  The individual is not allowed to practice forestry in Ontario unless they apply for full membership or a temporary permit from the Association.

Temporary
A practicing R.P.F. (equivalent to a Full member) in good standing from another province who has applied for and received a temporary permit to practise specific aspects of forestry in Ontario for a limited period of time.

*Note: Practicing members may only practise professional forestry in those areas in which they are competent.


May a R.P.F. from another province transfer to Ontario?

Yes.  Under the Agreement of Internal Trade and the related Ontario Labour Mobility Act, a professional forester in one Canadian province or territory can transfer their Membership to Ontario provided they are in good standing with their original provincial association and meet OPFA’s Local Knowledge requirement.  They will be required to successfully pass the Ontario Forest Policy & Administration examination within 6 months from the date of OPFA acceptance.

Your application package must include:

  1. An application form for Full membership
  2. A current resumé.
  3. The application fee as per OPFA’s Fee Schedule.
  4. A letter (email is acceptable) of Good Standing from the Registrar of the originating association.
  5. Completing a Personal Practice Focus (PPF) and a Learning Plan (LP) as required by OPFA’s Competency Support Program.

What is an accredited university program?

Accredited university programs are those that have been formally assessed as meeting specific academic and program standards.

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


What programs in Canada are accredited?

The most current information on accredited forestry programs in Canada can be found at the Canadian Forestry Accreditation Board’s (CFAB) website.  The web link is Canadian Forestry Accreditation Board.


What if my forestry education was outside Canada?

If you wish to become a Registered Professional Forester in Ontario and your degree is from outside Canada you can seek assistance in your application process by using the “Handbook for Applicants” produced by the Canadian Federation of Professional Foresters Associations (CFPFA).  This handbook is designed to provide a consistent approach across Canada to assist credential assessment for graduates from non-accredited programs and foreign trained applicants.

To be considered for registration, you must meet the following minimum requirements:

  1. Have graduated from a four-year, science-based baccalaureate degree, or equivalent.
  2. Can demonstrate that you meet the competencies of the current Certification Standards.
  3. Can demonstrate your commitment to professionalism and ethics (i.e. Good Character)
  4. Have work experience as described in the Certification Standards.

The “Applicant’s Manual” summarizes the application and assessment process.

We encourage you, as a first step, to make early contact with the Ontario Professional Foresters Association to get the specific details and requirements for registration as a R.P.F. in Ontario.


What if my degree is not accredited?

If you wish to become a Registered Professional Forester in Ontario, you must be approved as a Full (Registered Professional Forester) member by O.P.F.A.  If your degree is not accredited you can seek assistance in your application process by using the “Applicant’s Manual” produced by the Canadian Federation of Professional Foresters Associations (CFPFA).  This manual is designed to provide a consistent approach across Canada to assist credential assessment for graduates from non-accredited programs and foreign trained applicants.

In addition to the above, all candidates who have not studied professional forestry from an accredited program must complete O.P.F.A.’s Ontario Forest Policy & Administration exam.

All candidates for Full membership, within the last 5 years, must have completed 18 months of progressive professional forestry experience in Ontario after graduating from their forestry degree program (or equivalent).  The Registration Committee may recognize relevant forestry experience outside Ontario to meet part of this requirement.

You do not need to pass a language proficiency examination to qualify for O.P.F.A. membership or any other CFPFA member organization.  However, to complete the application process and meet the work experience requirement, you will need advanced communication skills in English. Strong communication and interpersonal skills are critical for most employment as a professional forester in Ontario.

To be considered for registration, you must meet the following minimum requirements:

  1. Have graduated from a four-year, science-based baccalaureate degree, or equivalent;
  2. Can demonstrate that you meet the competencies of the current 2008 Certification Standards;
  3. Have 18 months relevant, post-graduation experience while a Porvisional OPFA member;
  4. Have two sponsors complete Sponsorship Forms;
  5. Can demonstrate your commitment to professionalism and ethics;
  6. Have two character witnesses complete Character Witness Forms; and
  7. Successful completion of the Local Knowledge Assessment (Ontario forest policy and legislation).

The “Applicant’s Manual” summarizes the application and assessment process.

We encourage you, as a first step, to make early contact with the Ontario Professional Foresters Association to get the specific details and requirements for registration as a R.P.F. in Ontario.


How can I apply for membership?

A person shall apply for registration by submitting an application, in the form and manner approved by Council, to the Registrar along with the required application fee and documentation.  Only Full or Associate Members can apply for Inactive, Non-Resident or Life Membership.  Honourary Members are selected by the Council and a person cannot apply for that category of membership.

Please refer to the Application Process & Forms section of this website for more details, forms and to see when the Registration Committee meets.


What are the benefits of membership in the OPFA?

Benefits of membership in the Association include:

  • Exclusive use of the title of Registered Professional Forester and the initials R.P.F. for Full members;
  • Connections to an Ontario-wide professional, business and social network;
  • Access to the OPFA’s Continuing Education Program;
  • Quarterly issues of The Professional Forester newsletter;
  • Career opportunities and technical information through the OPFA website;
  • An annual conference;
  • Discounts on Errors and Omissions Insurance;
  • Discounts on auto rental, hotels, travel and personal insurance (home and auto); and
  • Leadership development opportunities through volunteering in the OPFA.

What are the responsibilities of membership?

All OPFA members must abide by the Association’s Code of Ethics and Professional Standards of Practice.  In addition, the member’s annual obligations that are due December 1 of each year are outlined under Membership Renewal:

  1. Payment of membership fees
  2. Competency Support Program Reporting
  3. Updating personal information, and business contact information (if applicable)

Failure to do any of the above 3 items could result in late fees and, if left unresolved, the suspension and cancellation of their certificate to practise.


How does OPFA accommodate applicants with special needs?

OPFA’s Accessibility Policy.


How long does the application process take?

The length of the application process varies by the category of membership being requested, and will vary for each applicant.  See the applicable document for estimated times based on the requested membership category and educational background of the applicant.