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Author Topic: What makes a Forester A Forester?  (Read 9969 times)

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Offline Jeff

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What makes a Forester A Forester?
« on: January 11, 2005, 01:17:29 PM »
A couple incidents here on the forum have me pondering this question. What is the definition of a forester? What gives the right to an individual to proclaim themselves as a Forester other then it is not against the law in that particular state? A Forest is a living, changing, complex thing. Yes it is a resource, a renewable resource, but it certainly is more then trees to be cut. Just because someone, through experience in the business, knows how to get more for your trees in the market place,  does this make him a forester?

My perception of the definition of a forester has always been someone trained in all aspects of this bio system, from the soil to the trees to the creatures that inhabit it.  

I found this link on the Society of American Foresters website:
http://www.safnet.org/policyandpress/lrcinfo.cfm

How do accredited foresters feel about timber buyers or people without any formal education out there calling themselves foresters?

My non-forester position is, is that it is at the best, in this day an age, deceptive, and at the worst, fraudulent.

Certainly someone that has spent years in the woods, observing and caring, and trying to do the best things for the resource should be able to say they are a "Good Forest Steward" or something like that, but I believe the term "forester" is viewed as a professional title, somehow earned, and recognized by peers.
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2005, 02:08:06 PM »
Technically, anyone with a BS degree or higher is considered a forester.  Those with degrees below that are forest technicians.  The degree bestows the title.  Going through the process, I don't like the idea of just anyone calling themselves a forester.  You want the title, start by getting the education.

Some states bestow licenses on foresters.  This can be from either a test or from experience or both.  Licensing is just another hoop to jump through, and others can call themselves something similar to a forester; like a timber agent or forest agent or the like.  Licenses are pretty meaningless.  No one really checks anyone's work to see if it is up to snuff.

Application of the science is a different matter.  I've seen guys with no degrees do better than those with the degrees.  It depends what is the driving force in their life.  If its greed and money, then the stand will be gutted - an economic clearcut.  

If they answer to another ideal, then the application is a lot different.  Crop trees are left to grow, surpressed trees are thinned out.  Stocking levels remain at good levels, which insure good quality.  The basis of the cut isn't how much money it generates, but what type of stand is left behind.

Good foresters make recommendations on what the stand dictates, not the market.  Our state-owned forests are probably the better managed forests, in my locale.  They address a lot of different markets.  But, throwing paint on a tree because it has reached a certain size and markets are good aren't a driving force, and their forests reflect that.

I've said it many times,  good forest management is more about what you leave behind than what you cut.  A good forester knows the difference and follows through.  The rest are just timber agents...degree or not.
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Offline Larry

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2005, 03:01:53 PM »
Quote
Cetainly someone that has spent years in the woods, observing and caring, and trying to do the best things for the resource should be able to say they are a "Good Forest Steward" or something like that, but I believe the term "forester" is viewed as a professional title, somehow earned, and recognized by peers.


I agree Jeff.  For many years at the telephone company I had the simple title of Engineer.  Never felt comfortable with the title as I do not have a engineering degree.  Think there were even a few legal actions long ago....maybe that is why the real engineers have P.E. behind their name.

Last 10 years my title changed every year or so....last title was Manager - Outside Plant Engineering Design....big mouth full but maybe not as deceptive as the simple title of Engineer - Outside Plant.

Ron had a great response that sometimes a title doesnt mean much.  I still think there should be a clear distinction between somebody with a forestry degree and somebody without.  Maybe the foresters need to add P.F. behind their name?
Larry, making useful and beautiful things out of the most environmental friendly material on the planet.

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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2005, 06:47:42 PM »
Forestry is a science. A "forester" is a professional engaged in the science and profession of forestry. A "forester" must have a minimum of a baccalaureate degree in forestry from a credited University and then at least 5 years of practical experience to become certified.

Sometimes the BS degree may be waved with equivalent experience and usually passing a comprehensive examination. Such individuals are few and far between especially now days. Some came up through the ranks that way during the CCC days and WWII. They were called "mustangs". One of my early mentors in the USFS was one such individual.
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Offline Texas Ranger

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2005, 09:14:02 PM »
Interesting discussion.  Here in Texas, and from what I gather in the south in general, loggers have taken to calling them selves Forestry Consultants, or Forester Planners, of any other mix that can be confused with forester.  

Ron has the definition down pat, degree and all, and experience, and goal, and ethics, etc.  Loggers that call themselves foresters of any ilk are frauds, trying to delude the public.  With the slow market down here now, the loggers have taken to hire out of work foresters who turn into timber pimps, selling the same junk cutting plans the loggers do, so the difference can be very small between one and the other.

What makes it worse is the Society of American Foresters have opened their membership to non-foresters, biologist, one lawyer I know of, surveyors, etc.  Only further blurs the line on who is and who isn't.

Good loggers are just that, good loggers, same on foresters, and the two have worked hand in hand for decades.  The schism between us now is driven by the frauds, and economics.

It doesn't help that the public thinks of us a forest rangers, and that loggers are foresters.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2005, 01:14:24 AM »
Maybe a better question is.. Who is the 'forester' working for?

If he's working for the landowner, (and is qualified .. or at least experienced, and honest ) then a the result is likely to be good, for the land owner.

If he's employed by the mill or the logger then you automatically have to suspect. He may not be dishonest or incompetant, he may be qualified /  licensed,  but he's payed to look after the mill / logger. He may do a decent job, but is it necesarrily the BEST for the land owner?.. Not very likely.

Maybe a better option is to promote the use of independant  or government foresters to work FOR the landowners, giving them good advice and preventing them from getting ripped off?


Ian
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2005, 02:58:38 AM »
I hate to say this, but I totally disagree with your assessment, Ian.  I've worked both sides of the fence, being both a procurement forester and a consultant.  As long as they are ethical, the employer doesn't matter.  Its more a reflection of the employer, since they set policy.

I've seen many private consultants that will mine timber just as good as logger.  Their goal is to sell timber, not to manage forests.  There are a ton of these guys out there, as well.

The paper company in our area does much better work than most consultants.  But, they have select loggers they will sell to that will guarantee that the wood comes to them.  

A few mills have some good foresters, as well.  The biggest problem is that after a woodlot is thinned, that opens the door for the next guy to come in and high grade it.  
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Offline Ianab

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2005, 03:44:18 AM »
Ron...
This is true... a GOOD company can set standards for their employees that ensure the job is done properly. But how can Joe Landowner know which company is working to a high standard, and which is just out to get his timber cheap?

Quote
Its more a reflection of the employer, since they set policy.


thats Kinda my point

I'm not blaming the forester thats working under a policy, it's just who's policy and is it a good one for BOTH parties?

I guess if it was simple it would have been solved years ago.

Maybe another analogy is when I was farming...
We had 300 cattle...
We would not say to the buyer... came and pick the cattle you want.. and leave the runts and the old stringy one behind  :-/

We would talk to an agent we trusted, discuss what cattle we should sell now, what we should keep for breeding, what we should fatten and sell next year and what we should cull.

Of course this relied on some knowledge on our part and trust with all parties involved.
Isn't managing a forest something similar?

I'm just saying that from the forest owners point, they need to be hiring a good forester. Not a crook posing as a forester, not a qualified forester who is working to someone elses agenda. But someone with their interest at heart.

And of course knowing what you have to sell.. and something about managing your forest / cattle herd is important. But thats down to education of the forest owners.

Ian
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Offline Tom

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2005, 06:46:26 AM »
I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night.  Does that make me a ......?

I think that knowledge is what make you anything.  Sheepskins tell others that you are supposed to have the knowledge.  That being the case, a degree in Underwater Basket weaving doesn't make one a Forester.  By the same token, a life in the woods doesn't make one a Forester either.

I've seen a lot of degreed folks that haven't the sense to tie their shoelaces, and a lot of guys brought up in the woods that don't know a Loblolly bay from a Loblolly pine.and think that all wood is classified as only hardwood or softwood. Yep, some think that Red Maple is a softwood cause it's .....soft.

If you really want to be a Forester of note, then you should pass through courses exposing you to the knowledge of "all" of the science of the woods. That means that you should have some modicum of knowledge of all plants everywhere, not just the tree in your backyard.  You should also know what makes it grow, what kills it, what it is used for, appreciate its place on the stump and its position in the make-up of the world.  You should have a knowledge of insecticides, insects, virus', bacteria, fertilizers, soil types, and the wildlife of the forest.  You should be able to apply this knowledge to provide the world with building materials and fiber, the land-owner with pleasant surroundings and an income, and the Forest with an ever-renewing health.

You should carry the skills of a teacher, lecturer, child educator, businessman, mathematician, survivalist and mechanic.  You should be able to discern those things that you know enough about to teach.  You should know when to speak up and have the fortitude to do so.  Know when to open your ears.  Know when to shut your mouth. Acknowledge those things that you don't know rather than pass on B.S. to an ignorant public. Stand as the spoke person for the forest and its wildlife, being always a knight in shining armor between the genuine land-owner and the tax man, the developer and the opportunist of the world.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2005, 07:08:08 AM »
Frank, by the definition, No  ;) But you have a lot of experience and knowledge in forestry to give forestry advice that could be endorsed by a forester.

It gets down to being accepted and recognized by your peers in the profession of forestry. Another test is, if you are recognized and certified to give "expert" witness testimony in a court of law concerning matters related to the science of forestry.

I have an individual working for me with 39 plus years of forestry experience wworking in the USFS and research. He is very knowlegeable and well respected in forestry circles here, but he doesn't have the BS degree in forestry, thus his title is Forest Technician and not Forester. I must oversee and sign for his work as "the forester". :P
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2005, 01:13:13 PM »
Don't look at me.  You all said it. ;)
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2005, 02:14:35 PM »
Ian

Your cattle analysis is right on for timber, especially if all you want to do is to sell it.  Would you use the same guy to come in and tell you how to manage your herd?  How about telling you how to manage your pasture or its runoff?

There's more to forestry than selling timber.  If all the forester talks about is selling trees, then maybe you should be looking for someone else, unless that's all you want to do.

Selling timber really isn't that hard.  Its not the forester that makes the deal, its the process of competitive bidding.  The forester levels the playing field by giving data to all parties...both buyers and sellers.  Landowners can sell their own, if they are coming from some point of knowledge, which a forester can provide.

If the only time a landowner uses a forester is for timber sales, then they've pretty well missed the point.  Foresters should be used in the planning and analysis of the woodlot.  The first time you should use a forester is when you purchase your land.  Its like only using a doctor to do an amputation, but never seeing him any other time.

The other thing to remember about consultants is that most are their own company.  They set their policy.  Some are in it only for their own gain, some have higher ideals.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2005, 03:11:46 PM »
Ron W, I 100% agree with you about the total management of the forest is what the Foresters job is all about.

I guess my point last night was that no cattle farmer would run his farm the same way as many people run their forests. ( well no successfull farmer anyway ) Of course most people dont have the knowledge to manage a forest. This is where a good forester comes in, and should be working primarily for the forest owner on the longterm management of the forest. Selling some logs is just part of the process.

If you had a cattle farm, but knew nothing about running it, you would hire a manager or a consultant to assist / advise you in the overall running of the farm. You would expect them to have a degree, a diploma or at least plenty of experience, but they would be working for you, not for the meat processing plant.

thats my 2 cents anyway   ;)

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Offline Oldtimer

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2005, 10:44:31 PM »
I am just a lowly self employed logger, scum of the earth in a lot of eyes. Here in NH, it is illegal to pass yourself off as a forester if you are not indeed a licenced forester. I make  it a specific point to tell landowners I am not a forester, it's even in my contracts.
There ARE decent well intentioned foresters here.
There are foresters here that are nothing but lying crooks too, only in it for the dollar. There are foresters here that attend every conference, every conservation meeting, every public discussion, pontificating on and on. One such forester, who works for a very large, very well known forestry consulting group with offices in several New England states, came to me and asked if I would go to bat with a landowner I was cutting for. He wanted to put in a 1/2 mile log truck road over the property to access timber on a mountain behind. I walked the route with him, and said sure,  if I say so, it's not a problem, they will allow it. On the way back out, I asked if he thought I could harvest 35,000 BF of white pine from my lot without undue damage. His response? "I get paid for my opinion."  Guess what? He never did make that truck road. He considers himself a demi-god, and me an ant. Jealous [I have typed a profane word that is automatically changed by the forum censored words program I should know better]. I had 130 acres of virgin pine because I asked, and the landowner trusted me. Doom on him. My point here is that a degree don't mean squat. I have done a better job on my own than most foresters I know of. I have only met 2 foresters who are worth a pisshole in the snow. It is a knee-jerk reaction to think all foresters are saints. they are not.

And to those members who dislike what I say and how I say it, too bad. I speak the truth as I know it.
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2005, 04:55:58 AM »
I'de like to say a word concerning some (not all) professional forester associations. There are some associations out there that are more of an old boys club. Oh, of course you have to write an entrance exam, but that doesn't prove much. Just that you are good at memorizing text. Some of these associations are unto themselves and have no public exposure at all. There is no peer review process of the forester's work. Sure they have a code of ethics and a Forester Act, but they don't enforce it. In all the years I've practiced forestry I don't remember the Association inviting the public to any meeting on any issue and I've never heard of any kind of repromand made on a member. I have known some members with questionable reputations. Some real discusting individuals.

To digress a little here: I don't know if the general public even trust foresters, since most are seen as industrial foresters. And alot of private woodlot owners don't trust the forester's employers, because of past history. I can remember a good many trips to the provincial legislature concerning the rights of woodlot owners versus coorporate giants. This is partly the reason there are Marketing Boards in my province. Woodlot owners and loggers are still fighting over the rights to crown land access and primary source of supply. Just recently the CBC program, 'The Nature of Things' profiled a couple of loggers from New Brunswick who spoke about how industry controls our  public forest and have no intentions of allowing community based forestry. These are industrial foresters and executives telling the people of this province, 'it's hand off'.  Not many independent consulting foresters in my province at all and I believe this is a result of industry having total control of public forests. I believe community based forestry would demand independent foresters and would create more local employment for communities. For some reason the corporations think they have the magic touch and the private woodlot sector is seen as 'no nothings' or they don't have the capacity to understand. ::)  As a forester I get tired of seeing this perpetual gobly gook from industrial foresters and industry execs.

OK, I said enough.
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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2005, 08:37:21 AM »
Oltimer I think we all agree that there are bad apples in any orginazation but lets not miss the what I think is the main point of the post.

What Makes a Forester a Forester?

I think the question was asked because of some of the recent fraudulent claims people have made about their credentials.  

I think what we should take from all this is the realization that a person MUST ask a couple of questions.  Two that we incorporate into our corporate program of accountability are:
1. Says Who?
2. With What Proof?

I cant tell you how many times those two simple questions have sent people the other way because most crooks cant get past the first question and if they do, then they cant come up with the credentials to support what they say.  

Simply keep people accountable to their word no matter what industry they are in.  

I have only met one Forester in my life and my experience has been great.  He was a saint.

Offline Oldtimer

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2005, 10:11:19 AM »

What makes a Forester a forester?

Beyond the framed certificates on his wall......?

If he does right by the woods first, landowner second, harvester third, himself last. Thats what, in my humble opinion.
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Offline Jeff

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2005, 10:32:45 AM »
The plaque on the wall is a start

The rest, with out the plaque tells me, Joe Land-Owner nothing. It does nothing about protecting one against Mr. Lets-Pretend-I-am-a-Forester so I can get your trees.

Is that how you would consider picking someone to take your appendix out? Wouldn't the first thing you want to know is when he said he was a doctor, it wasn't just because he proclaimed himself a Dr.?

I have no problem if someone proclaims themselves an idiot. That has no effect on me.  Ya want to call your self a sword swallower? Have at it, it aint my innards.

I wired my whole house. I certainly would not call myself an electrician. Would you? What would you think if I did, then wired your house, did it well, but the next week you found out I never had a bit of elecrical training other then I had wired my own house. Wouldn't you maybe wonder if down the road your house just might burn down?

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Offline Jeff

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2005, 01:48:07 PM »
Oldtimer, I had to take a road trip and pick up some X-ray films for a doctors appointment and I was thinking about this some more on the way.

I want to ask you this and see what you feel. It may be partly hypothetical, but you should be able to put yourself inside the question for discussion purposes.

You are a Logger. Its all you have ever done since you left high school. All you ever wanted to do. You do a good job. You are conscientious and really care , not only for the quality of the job you do, but for the future of the forests in which you work. You want to make sure that 10, 15, or even 20 years down the road, you will have a chance to go back to these same forests and find them a better place because of the good job you did while you were there. You may be able to log them again, or perhaps you have a son now that is in the business and you have brought him up with the same values that you have and now its his turn to work in that forest. You have done well as a logger. You know it, the people you work with and for know it. You can be proud of the work you have accomplished.

Having said all this, at what point, do you feel, that you can start calling yourself a forester?
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: What makes a Forester A Forester?
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2005, 02:35:13 PM »
Well I'll say this....
It sure is good to here positive experiences with foresters, especially when it comes to private woodlots. It's vocal woodlot owners that get the message across about a forester who was of great benefit to develop a sound approach to managing their land. I am equally pleased to here positive dealing with forest technicians and technologists. These folks also have exposure to alot of the sciences the forester studies and shouldn't be discounted. There have been quite a few knowledgeable forest technicians that have become extension staff with government, whose job it is to educate the public. Sadly, our local government has lost site of this value, so the provincial marketing boards had to come together to form a type of extension with the staff capable to deliver courses for the private woodlot owner (www.infor.com). I will acknowledge that alot of folks, specifically woodlot owners still confuse techncians for foresters. But, if you ask any technician, or at least in my experience, he/she will acknowledge himself as a technician. They are equally as proud as any forester would be. Sometimes, the confusion or mistake in differentiating who a forester is, comes from the fact that some technicians start out in Forestry school, then later decide to take the technician course instead. For whatever reason, personal or otherwise. Then you have family members who call their son or nephew a forester. I've seen this quite a few times. Some technicians are even called forest rangers, which may or may not be true either, because some foresters are forest rangers as well as some technicians are rangers. It all depends on weather thay have taken enforcement. Also, the old forest technician school was nick-naked forest ranger school, lending to the confusion also. I had relatives that actually graduated from the forest ranger school as technologists who worked in surveying and constructing mill sites or railway lines, even for the power corporation. In those days the course was alot more different and more geared toward engineering than to forestry.
No amount of belief makes something a fact. James Randi

1 Thessalonians 5:21


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What makes you a Forester ? for jon12345

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