Code of Ethics

These canons formulate the guiding principles of professional conduct for ACF Consulting Foresters in their relations with each other, their employers, the public and with other foresters. Observance of these canons secures decent and honorable professional and human relationships, establishes enduring mutual confidence and respect, and enables the profession to give its maximum service.

These canons have been adopted by the membership of the Association and can only be amended by the membership. These canons apply to all membership categories. Procedures for processing charges of violation of these canons are available from the ACF National Office. All members upon joining the Association agree to abide by this code as a condition of membership.

Professional Life

1. An ACF Consulting Forester will cooperate in extending the effectiveness of the forestry profession by exchanging information and experience through contribution to the work of forestry societies, associations, schools, and publications.

2. An ACF Consulting Forester will not use false or deceptive statements in advertising of professional services being offered to prospective clients and the public.

Dealing With The Public

3. An ACF Consulting Forester will strive to challenge and correct untrue, deceptive, and misleading statements about forestry using open and honest communication.

4. ACF Consulting Foresters will not issue statements, criticism, or arguments on matters connected with public forestry policies, without indicating, at the same time, on whose behalf they are acting.

5. When serving as an expert witness on forestry matters in a public or private fact finding proceeding, an ACF Consulting Forester will base testimony on adequate knowledge of subject matter and render opinions based on honest convictions.

6. ACF Consulting Foresters will refrain from publicly expressing opinions on a technical subject unless informed of the facts relating thereto, and will not distort or withhold data for the purpose of substantiating a point of view.

Dealing With Clients, Principals, and Employers

7. ACF Consulting Foresters will be loyal to their clients and to the organization in which they are employed and will faithfully perform their work and assignments.

8. ACF Consulting Foresters will clearly present the consequences expected if their professional forestry judgment is overruled by non-technical authority when they are responsible for the technical adequacy of forestry or related work.

9. ACF Consulting Foresters will not voluntarily disclose information, received in confidence, concerning business affairs of their employers, principals, or clients, unless express permission from all parties is first obtained or the disclosure is required by law.

10. An ACF Consulting Forester must avoid conflicts of interest or even an appearance of such conflicts.

11. ACF Consulting Foresters will not, for the same service, accept compensation of any kind other than from their clients, principals, or employers, without full disclosure, knowledge, and written consent of all parties concerned.

12. ACF Consulting Foresters will engage or advise their clients or employers to engage other experts and specialists in forestry and related fields whenever the clients' or employers' interests would be best served by such actions.

13. ACF Consulting Foresters will not use association with a non-forester, a corporation, or partnership as a cloak for unethical acts, but must accept responsibility for their acts.

14. Under no circumstances should ACF Consulting Foresters undertake to make an appraisal when their employment or fee is contingent upon the amount of their estimate of value.

15. It is unethical for an ACF Consulting Forester to pay or claim a fee or commission for the purpose of obtaining or referring employment.

Dealing With Professional Foresters

16. An ACF Consulting Forester will at all times strive to protect the forestry profession and individual foresters from misrepresentation and misunderstanding.

17. An ACF Consulting Forester will aid in safeguarding the ACF against the admission to its ranks of persons lacking good moral character or adequate training.

18. In writing, or in speech, ACF Consulting Foresters will be scrupulous in giving full credit to others, insofar as their knowledge goes, for procedures and methods devised or discovered, ideas advanced, or aid given.

19. An ACF Consulting Forester will not intentionally, directly or indirectly injure the reputation or business of others without just cause.

20. If ACF Consulting Foresters have substantial and convincing evidence of unprofessional conduct of an ACF Consulting Forester, they will present the information to the proper authority for action.

21. An ACF Consulting Forester will base all letters of reference, or oral recommendation, on a fair and unbiased evaluation of the party concerned.

22. An ACF Consulting Forester will not coerce financial contributions from subordinates or employees for any purposes.

23. An ACF Consulting Forester will uphold the principle of appropriate and adequate compensation for those engaged in forestry work, including those in subordinate positions, as being in the public interest and maintaining the standards of the profession.

Adopted by the Association of Consulting Foresters by Member Referendum, November 11, 1976, replacing the Code adopted November 11, 1948. The 1976 Code was amended May 31, 1992, March 20, 2015, and August 27, 2018.


The following resources are presented by ACF's Ethics Committee to further clarify the Code and individual canons.  Contact the national office with any questions about the Code or these resources:

Spring 2022 Newsletter Article - Clearing the Ethical Air

The 2023 Consultant Magazine Article - Conflict of Interest Two Parables