All members of the Society of American Foresters are governed by its Code of Ethics. The Code ensures that members act honestly, make true and complete statements, give due credit, resolve or disclose conflicts of interest, have respect for the rule of law, and the Code also encourages members to challenge and correct untrue statements about forestry. Any two persons may charge a member with violating the Code by writing to the President of the Society of American Foresters and referring to which specific pledges are alleged to have been violated.
In addition, every Certified Forester and Candidate Certified Forester agrees to follow the Standards of Professional Practice. Any person can submit a complaint against a Certified Forester or Candidate Certified Forester for a violation of those Standards.
SAF Code of Ethics
Service to society is the cornerstone of any profession. The profession of forestry serves society by fostering stewardship of the world’s forests. Because forests provide valuable resources and perform critical ecological functions, they are vital to the wellbeing of both society and the biosphere.
Members of the Society of American Foresters have a deep and enduring love for the land, and are inspired by the profession’s historic traditions, such as Gifford Pinchot’s utilitarianism and Aldo Leopold’s ecological conscience. In their various roles as practitioners, teachers, researchers, advisers, and administrators, foresters seek to sustain and protect a variety of forest uses and attributes, such as aesthetic values, air and water quality, biodiversity, recreation, timber production, and wildlife habitat.
The purpose of this Code of Ethics is to protect and serve society by inspiring, guiding, and governing members in the conduct of their professional lives. Compliance with the code demonstrates members’ respect for the land and their commitment to the long-term management of ecosystems, and ensures just and honorable professional and human relationships, mutual confidence and respect, and competent service to society.
On joining the Society of American Foresters, members assume a special responsibility to the profession and to society by promising to uphold and abide by the following:
Principles and Pledges
- Foresters have a responsibility to manage land for both current and future generations. We pledge to practice and advocate management that will maintain the long-term capacity of the land to provide the variety of materials, uses, and values desired by landowners and society.
- Society must respect forest landowners’ rights and correspondingly, landowners have a land stewardship responsibility to society. We pledge to practice and advocate forest management in accordance with landowner objectives and professional standards, and to advise landowners of the consequences of deviating from such standards.
- Sound science is the foundation of the forestry profession. We pledge to strive for continuous improvement of our methods and our personal knowledge and skills; to perform only those services for which we are qualified; and in the biological, physical, and social sciences to use the most appropriate data, methods, and technology.
- Public policy related to forests must be based on both scientific principles and societal values. We pledge to use our knowledge and skills to help formulate sound forest policies and laws; to challenge and correct untrue statements about forestry; and to foster dialogue among foresters, other professionals, landowners, and the public regarding forest policies.
- Honest and open communication, coupled with respect for information given in confidence, is essential to good service. We pledge to always present, to the best of our ability, accurate and complete information; to indicate on whose behalf any public statements are made; to fully disclose and resolve any existing or potential conflicts of interest; and to keep proprietary information confidential unless the appropriate person authorizes its disclosure.
- Professional and civic behavior must be based on honesty, fairness, good will, and respect for the law. We pledge to conduct ourselves in a civil and dignified manner; to respect the needs, contributions, and viewpoints of others; and to give due credit to others for their methods, ideas, or assistance.
Adopted by the Society of American Foresters by Member Referendum, November 3, 2000, replacing the code adopted June 23, 1976, as amended November 4, 1986, and November 2, 1992. The 1976 code replaced the code adopted November 12, 1948, as amended December 4, 1971.