The Association had its beginnings in 1948 when Alex Setser of Tennessee polled all of the practicing consulting foresters in the United States.
Although the total numbers were relatively small, it was clear that...
"There was a strong need for a professional organization to acquaint consultants with their colleagues, protect the field from charlatans by uniform standards specially designed for consulting work, disseminate new techniques as they evolved, and provide foresters, as well as their clients, with a means of locating consulting foresters of proven ability and character in every part of the country. Furthermore, in matters vital to consultants, but of little or no consequence to the forestry profession in general, consultants felt they should be able to take a united stand."
In December 1948, these issues were brought up at the annual meeting of the Society of American Foresters in Boston. Foresters present at that meeting - Halsey Hicks, Robert Moore, Clinton Peltier, Ed Stuart and J. Atwood Whitman - became ACF's Founding Members. A number of consultants brought different opinions as to what type of organization should be formed. At first, it seemed as though Consulting Forestry would become a division within the Society of American Foresters. But Henry Clepper, Executive Secretary of the SAF, indicated that there were too many divisions within the Society and that such a proposed division would not be approved. At that moment, ACF was born.
Although the founders were acutely aware that the new association would need the weight of numbers before it could make an effective start toward its aims, they resisted the temptation to welcome into their ranks all who called themselves consulting foresters. They foresaw an inevitable dilution of authority which would eventually defeat the very purpose for which the ACF was created. So, in addition to requiring a forestry degree from a college or university approved by the Executive Board and at least five years of practical experience in forest administration and management, the founders added the requirement that an applicant have at least one full year's experience as an actual forestry consultant.
A consulting forester was defined as "a professional forester who devotes not less than 75 percent of his working time each year to performing...technical forestry work... on a fee or contract basis" whose services are offered" to the public rather than to a single full-time employer. Requirements for membership have since been amended as the profession and the industry have evolved.