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What Foresters Do

What Professional Foresters Do

Professional Foresters are responsible for looking after Ontario’s forests. Registered Professional Foresters (R.P.F.s) and Associate Registered Professional Foresters (Associate R.P.F.s) of the OPFA form part of the professional forestry team responsible for planning, implementing and evaluating 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 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.

OPFA has over 900 members of which approximately 600 are licensed to practice 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. There is still great demand for professional foresters to fill these traditional roles, but professional foresters today are also providing valuable services in a much wider range of positions within government, municipalities, Conservation Authorities, colleges and universities, non-profit organizations, and Indigenous organizations,.

This word cloud was created from the job titles of R.P.F.s and Associate R.P.F.s in 2022: while not all are shown, you can really see the diversity of those areas that are most common!



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

  • Adherence to a Code of Ethics

Why Professional Foresters are Important

Advances in forestry and our understanding of ecology mean that professional foresters must have a holistic long-term view of the forest. Foresters consider wildlife, fires, insect and disease reduction, cultural values, aesthetics, recreation, water protection and the environment when they undertake their work. They also consider the cumulative impacts of forestry operations on wildlife habitat and timber production over long periods of time.

Examples of some forestry careers are Chief Forester, Woodlands Manager, Urban Forester, Silvicultural Specialist, Forest Ecologist and Planning Forester. Changes in technology and the importance of protecting the environment and human infrastructure is resulting in new careers being established every day. Professional foresters are in short supply with very high job placement for graduates from accredited forestry programs.

A Registered Professional Forester (R.P.F.) is trained to address many forest and landscape scale issues including the design of complex forest management regimes to achieve long-term outcomes. Associate Members of the OPFA are also able to practise professional forestry within a defined scope of practise. There are many specialties within forestry, and some R.P.F.s are experts in areas like entomology, ecology, hydrology, forest health, policy, silviculture, road planning and resource inventories.

Photo by: Scott McPherson

Become a Registered Professional Forester today

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, during or after completion of a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from an accredited Canadian University or has equivalent academic qualifications.

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