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How do I get Started in Forestry Consulting?

Starting a career in forestry consulting requires a blend of education in forestry, practical field experience, and business acumen. Begin by earning a degree in forestry, then gain hands-on experience. Networking and continuous learning are also key. What steps are you taking to launch your forestry consulting career?
Carol Francois
Carol Francois

The field of forestry consulting is an area of growth around the world. Forestry is the study of the different types of forests, threats, and forestry management techniques. Forestry consulting services are typically utilized by governments, environmental agencies, lumber firms, and conservation groups. The types of services provided by a forestry consulting firm range widely from timber cruising and inventory management services to geographical information system installation.

Forestry consultants have a range of educational backgrounds, from geographical information systems to forestry. Typically, forestry consultants have a minimum bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. In addition, a significant number of consultants have completed a master’s degree in their area of specialization. Training or certification as a project manager is a growing requirement, as most of this work is project based.

Felled trees.
Felled trees.

Working as a forestry consultant is typically a mid-career position, as a significant amount of work experience is required. Between 10 and 15 years working experience in forestry with gradually increasing responsibility provides a strong background and field experience. Most forestry work is completed on-site and involves living in remote regions around the world.

Forestry involves managing and developing forests.
Forestry involves managing and developing forests.

Establishing a reputation within your area of focus in forestry is an important first step for anyone who wants to get started in forestry consulting. Consistently providing high quality work is one aspect. Interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, and business management perspective are skills are essential as a consultant. These type of soft skills can be either learned slowly through experience or learned in a series of courses or through executive coaching.

A forestry consultant might lay out paths for new hiking trails.
A forestry consultant might lay out paths for new hiking trails.

Written and oral communication skills are a much higher priority in forestry consulting than other areas of the industry. The client is essentially purchasing the skill and expertise of the consultant. The final work product is almost always a written document, proposal, evaluation, or recommendation. In preparation for this type of work, many people complete courses on business writing and English grammar.

In addition to report writing skills, consultants are expected to make presentations in front of groups, with audiences ranging from a small group of staff to senior executives. Practice is the only way to learn this skill. Executive coaching or volunteering for a dramatic production is a great way to fine tune these skills.

The addition of these skills is a great first step toward getting started in forestry consulting. There are two types of forestry consulting firms: large multinational firms or smaller boutique or niche firms. Think about the type of work that you want to do and where your experience and strengths are. Start small and gain valuable experience and business contacts before applying to a large multinational firm.

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    • Felled trees.
      By: Kacpura
      Felled trees.
    • Forestry involves managing and developing forests.
      By: Lars Johansson
      Forestry involves managing and developing forests.
    • A forestry consultant might lay out paths for new hiking trails.
      By: Mark Rasmussen
      A forestry consultant might lay out paths for new hiking trails.