25 year old well managed forest stand

A well managed forest is something the whole family can enjoy. This 25-year-old stand is a great example of successful management plan developed by a consulting forester. Credit: Stephen Greer, UF/IFAS


Stephen Greer, County Extension Director, UF/IFAS Extension Santa Rosa


Forest landowners can use the services of a professional consulting forester in several ways.  The use of a consulting forester can be justified by the timber stand’s corresponding increase in productivity, quality, and volume.  Depending on their areas of expertise, consultants can assist from initial planning to harvest and many of the decisions in between.

If a forest is well managed, the system provides benefits to the landowner including improved wildlife habitat, timber sales, and recreation.  Consulting foresters go into this business to support landowners through managing for a better tomorrow.  They work on the owner’s behalf and manage the land based on criteria laid out during the planning phase.  Never hesitate to ask questions and always expect professional answers from consulting foresters. Keep in mind, plans and decisions made today can be adjusted in the future and that the need for these adjustments is not uncommon. Being able to successfully implement the plan and any necessary adjustments is where the expertise and experience of a professional consultant really comes into play.

Signing a contract with the forestry consultant will include fees for specific types of services.  Once the contract is received, take time to review it before signing.  The charges can occur in an hourly or daily rate, on a per acre basis, or with the completion of a specific job.  Two of the bigger charges occur during planting and harvest.  Often the agreement for arranging the harvest, including overseeing all the details, is a percentage of the proceeds from the timber sale.  This serves as an incentive for the consultant to work to maximize the value of the timber sold. Other factors including careful use of equipment to reduce soil/site impacts,  appropriate planning, use, maintenance and repair of entry and exit points, and the timing of operations can all be addressed in the contract.

Beyond making timber sale/harvest arrangements, another important role of a consulting forester is to inventory the timber stand. The inventory will generally consist of a record the species on site, diameter measurements through random sampling techniques, tree heights, and quality.  This information will be used to quantify timber volume. A value that is necessary for bidding purposes during thinning and later with the final harvest.

Studies have found landowners who contract for timber harvest on their own generate lower sales returns than those who involve a consulting forester.  This is where contracting with the right consultant is critical to this success.  Ask for references, contact them and visit some recently harvested sites to see for yourself.

Managing family or business acreage for timber is a complex operation.  Look for a forestry consultant that is trustworthy, a good communicator, openly shares the details of the stewardship plan, and has an excellent professional reputation in the industry.  The primary goal is to maintain a sustainable forest that everyone in your family can enjoy.

The Florida Forest Service maintains a web-based vendor listing service.  There website allows landowners to access contact information for Forest Management Consultants, Tree Seedling Nurseries, Site Preparation Vendors, Tree Planting Vendors, and Forest Product Buyers for the specific counties these business entities serve.
Florida Forest Service Vendor Database