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The Value of Hiring a Consulting Forester Prior to a Timber Harvest

The Value of Hiring a Consulting Forester Prior to a Timber Harvest

When making a decision to harvest timber, landowners require two critical pieces of information:

  • How much ready-to-harvest timber do I have in each product class (sawtimber or pulpwood, for instance)? (Read How Harvested Trees Are Used)
  • What is the market price for each product class?

While consulting foresters provide critical technical assistance in all phases of forest management, answering the first of these questions prior to a harvest is perhaps the most critical. With a detailed understanding of the volume of timber products ready for harvest, landowners can ensure that they are not being shorted by the logger when the timber is sold (see Selling Timber? 4 Tips for Hiring a Qualified Logger). Landowners can also apply published market prices to the volumes and have a very good estimate of the total income they will receive from the sale.


For these reasons, Forest2Market recommends that landowners hire consulting foresters when they are contemplating a timber sale. Doing so is likely to lead to a higher return on your investment at the time of a timber sale.

Consulting foresters also provide other services, ranging from preparation of land management plans to improving the quality of the timber and, therefore, the value of the timberland. These services include:

  • Property boundary surveying
  • Handling all aspects of timber sales administration from advertising the sale to managing the bidding process
  • Timber sale contract preparation and management
  • Logging performance inspections
  • Harvest coordination in conjunction with logging crew leader
  • Marking sale boundaries (including Streamside Management Zones)
  • Determining thinning requirements, harvest method, skid trail layout, location and quantities of decks, road building, intensity of tree removal and density of residual stand
  • Post-harvest clean-up
  • Site preparation, herbicide and fertilizer application, prescribed burns for hazardous fuel reduction and hardwood control
  • Reforestation
  • Mapping
  • Wildlife habitat improvement (deer, turkey, quail, ducks, etc.)

Fee arrangements vary by the type of service. They may be charged on an hourly, daily or per acre basis, or the fee may be determined as a set amount for a complete project. For timber sales, the fee is often a percentage of sale receipts, from 3- 10%, depending on the work involved and the size and value of the sale.

Some states do not require forestry consultants to be registered, licensed, or certified which means that consultants have varying qualifications, credentials, and standards with respect to the way they conduct their business. It is therefore important to explore available services and choose carefully the individual or firm that can best meet your specific needs.

To find a certified forester to assist with a timber sale, you can use the "Find a Consultant" function on the websites of the Society of American Foresters (www.safnet.org). Though the Association of Consulting Foresters (www.acf-foresters.org) does not certify foresters, their website does have a "Find a Consultant" function as well.

We recommend landowners create a short list of candidates to interview from these websites.

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