How Do I Choose a Consulting Forester?

— Written By

Recently I received the inquiry below. It has been edited for clarity, and by “edited for clarity” I mean “completely fabricated.”

Dear Paul,

I am writing to you because your wisdom and advice is so highly regarded throughout the land. I have some timber to sell, and I have learned that a Registered Consulting Forester can provide invaluable assistance to me in navigating that process. I was directed to the North Carolina Forest Service website to obtain a list of consulting foresters that work in my county. However, the list contains dozens of names! How do I choose?

Sincerely,

Mr. N. D. Cision

Dear Mr. Cision,

It’s so nice of you to write, especially the part about my wisdom. And what a great question! The reason the list contains so many names is because to be included on the list, a Consultant only needs to indicate that they will provide services in your county. Their office may be based in another community that is 50, 100 or 150 miles away.

You might feel more comfortable working with a Consultant who is based in or near the community where your property is located. If they are based nearby, it might be easier for them to visit the property to assess your timber and monitor the harvest. They might also have better contacts with loggers and buyers in the area.

That being said, there may be Consultants on the list who are based further away, but who nonetheless do a lot of work in your County.

Thus, you might go through the list and highlight the ones that are located close by. You could select three or four of those at random, and maybe another three or four of those located further away. You should then call each one and interview them. Here are some questions you might ask:

1. How long have you been in the business?
2. Where did you get your education?
3. How many sales have you managed?
4. How much work have you done in this county?
5. Can you provide three references of landowners in this county that you’ve worked with?
6. What services do you provide?
7. What are your fees?

Another good option is to attend forest landowner educational events in your area. You will have an opportunity to meet other landowners and can ask for their recommendations.

I hope these suggestions will help you make a good decision.

Wisely yours,

Paul