Forest Metrix recently distributed a survey to about 2,000 randomly selected licensed foresters, discovering some benchmarks for forestry practices, as well as some interesting business trends. (Many thanks to those who participated!)
Executive Summary- the Business side of Forestry
Foresters are very busy these days, with the majority indicating that work is busier this year than last. Only 7 percent thought things were slower. There was no correlation between demand for business and the region where the foresters are working; all regions seem to be strong.
Demand for timber sale administration and management continue to comprise the majority of services provided, but several other segments of forestry are showing growth, including appraisals, logging, invasive vegetation control and general ecological inventory.
Expert witness services and road construction are seeing diminished demand.
More than 60% of foresters have seen no change in number of competing firms in their region. Most of those foresters see from three to ten competitors in their region. At the same time, about a third are seeing more clients who are more sensitive to the price of services, compared to only 4% who indicate there is less price sensitivity. Taken together, it is not surprising that they are also looking to grow into other business sectors. A significant number of foresters are looking to do more general ecological inventory and custom research projects, as well as appraisal work.
Who Are Foresters?
Roughly two thirds of licensed foresters are 1-2 person consulting forestry shops. 22% of foresters are employed by the government sector.
Some of the findings were not too surprising- foresters are getting… mature. Fifty-seven percent are older than fifty. A full 46 percent have more than 30 years of experience. This is consistent with the finding that about 42 percent plan to be retired within 10 years, indicating that it is a great time to be a young forester, as only one in six foresters are younger than 40.
As anyone who regularly attends workshops and conferences, you probably note the prevalence weak knees and tired hips. Forestry is not an easy career by any stretch, but 80 percent say that they LOVE their job, and the others either like it (15%) or are at least are “OK” with it (5%). Not a single respondent dislikes or hates being a forester. Overall, that is a pretty tremendous statistic – we certainly aren’t demographic experts, but we have a hard time imagining other industries where folks are so happy doing what they do.
That said, there are some things that frustrate foresters. The worst thing seems to be the unpredictable business cycle. Pay could be better, and dealing with clients is can be tough. Besides that, there are a few things that trouble folks, but most of those issues are fairly minor, with only 5-10% indicating those negatives. We did see a few interesting negative comments here – bugs, heat, and ticks were cited, which might help explain the lull in the activity around July. Overall, however, December and January were the slowest months, with September through October being the busiest.
Contrary to what some might think, foresters are more technologically-savvy than they’d lead you to believe. Nearly 60% use specialized forestry software for timber analysis, and 75% use software for mapping. However, 43% of foresters are considering moving to a new forestry software, particularly if something better comes along, indicating a relatively low level of current satisfaction.
About Forest Metrix
Forest Metrix is the modern generation of forestry software; the only product to exploit the extraordinary capabilities of smart phones and tablets in the field. Based on a highly customizable and easy to use platform, the product makes data collection fast, turns analysis into a one-touch operation, and produces publication-ready reports in Microsoft Excel. Call or email for a quick demonstration.