Who can help me manage my forest?

Your DCNR Service Forester:

Service foresters work for the PA DCNR Bureau of Forestry and provide private landowners with advice and guidance on how to manage their forested lands. These foresters can visit and walk your land with you with no charge; they are one of a forest landowner’s most valuable resources; they can provide you with:

  • Forest management technical assistance
  • Cost-share assistance
  • Assistance in obtaining Forest Stewardship Plans
  • Forestry and Water Best Management Practices advice
  • Information and Education programs
  • Tree Planting Information
  • Riparian Forest Buffer restoration
  • Urban and Community Forestry management
  • Regional planning advice

Your Service Forester is just a phone call/email away. Each Service Foresters works out of one of the state’s 20 Forest Districts on the county level to encourage sustainable forest management. Find the service forester for your county.

Selecting a Consulting Forester/Natural Resource Professional:

Choosing a private forester to assist you in managing your woodlot is an important process in addressing the challenges you may face in sustaining multiple benefits and resources from your forest. A trusted professional forester can be utilized for the life of your ownership to carry out management planning on the property, implement recommendations within the plan, and assist you with other important aspects of your forest, such as tax planning and estate planning.

Currently in Pennsylvania, anyone can legally claim to be a forester or forestry consultant, regardless of training, certifications, or experience. Therefore, the decision you make today in hiring a forester to assist you in managing your property can either positively or negatively impact your ability to reach set goals and interests for your forest.

Choosing a private forester to assist you in managing your woodlot can be done in five easy steps.

1. Contact your local DCNR Service Forester

to obtain an up to date list of foresters that do business in your county. You can also access this list here.
This list will provide contact information, services offered, and any professional certifications the forester has obtained. By law, your service forester cannot recommend any individual on the state list

2. Contact several foresters on your list.

Ask them about:

  1. Professional Certifications-Membership in the Association of Consulting Foresters, Society of American Foresters Certified Forester Program, or Pennsylvania Council of Professional Foresters. These organizations promote high standards of professionalism for members along with a code of ethics.
  2. Education-Foresters should have at the minimum a 2 year degree in forestry and be able to provide documented proof of this degree upon request.
  3. Work experience-The forester should have documented experience of carrying out the types of services you wish to carry out in the management of your forest. Ensure the forester always is representing your goals and interests first and foremost.
  4. Local references-The forester should be able to provide at least three references for forest landowners they have done business with in the past. Contact these references, ask them if they were satisfied with the job that was done and, if possible, consider touring the properties where the work was completed. Ask these references if the project was carried out according to a professional forest management plan, such as a Forest Stewardship or Tree Farm Plan.

3. Join a local Woodland Owners Association

Pennsylvania has twenty eight local and regional organizations made up of woodland owners who are informing themselves about sustainable forest management. Many of these landowners will be able advise you on foresters that will represent your best interests in the local area.

4. Discuss the fees charged for the type of work in which you are interested.

If there are no fees, be sure you understand who pays the bill and how that might affect the professional’s recommendations.

5. Secure a written, legal work contract, with fees, services, obligations, terms, and principal parties clearly identified.

You may wish to ask an attorney to review the document before signing it.