What Professional Foresters Do?

Registered Professional Foresters (RPFs) are responsible for looking after Ontario’s forests. RPFs form part of the professional forestry team responsible for planning and approving 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.

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; and
  •        adherence to a Code of Ethics.

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 800 members of which approximately 600 are licenced 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.

Advances in forestry and our understanding of ecology mean that the modern forester must have a holistic view of the forest. Foresters consider wildlife, fires, insect and disease reduction, aesthetics, recreation, water protection and the environment when they undertake their work. Foresters have always worked to breed the healthiest seeds and planting stock.

Today they face the challenge of creating trees that will adapt to the new environmental conditions expected from climate change. Examples of some forestry careers are Chief Forester, Woodlands Manager, Urban Forester, Silvicultural Specialist, Forest Ecologist, Area Forester and new careers are being established every day.  Urban forestry is the fastest growing career choice for professional foresters.

The functions and accountabilities of an RPF address many forest and landscape scale issues including the design of complex forest management regimes to achieve long-term outcomes. There are many specialties within forestry, and RPFs are experts in areas like entomology, ecology, hydrology, silviculture, road planning and numerous other fields.

Job Options

The following list of job titles is a sample of the diverse and varied jobs available to Registered Professional Foresters:

  •         Forestry Manager, Operations
  •         Forestry Superintendent
  •         Watershed Management Planner
  •         Watershed Restoration Specialist
  •         Forest Ecologist
  •         Forest Habitat Specialist
  •         Forest Health Officer
  •         Divisional Forester
  •         Urban Forester
  •         Biodiversity Forester
  •         Silvicultural Forester
  •         Forestry Analyst
  •         Compliance & Enforcement Coordinator
  •         Integrated Resource Management Officer
  •         Consulting Forester
  •         Woodlands Manager
  •         Chief Forester

The Greenest Workforce discusses a forestry life and career.