Becoming a Certified Tree Farmer

New Certification

To qualify for Tree Farm certification, landowners must actively manage 10 to 10,000 wooded acres and have a written forest management plan that meets the requirements of the Standards of Sustainability. Once landowners have a qualifying management plan, they should contact the N.C. Tree Farm Program to let us know of their interest in Tree Farm certification. We will require a $350 fee to start the certification process. Once that fee is paid, we will assign a Tree Farm inspector to review the management plan and walk the property to confirm that it meets the requirements for certification. The inspector will submit an inspection report to us with a recommendation for certification. We will then enter the inspection information into the national certification database and complete the certification process. All new Tree Farms receive a Tree Farm sign and certificate of membership.


The N.C. Tree Farm Program requires certified Tree Farms to be re-inspected and recertified every five years. We will contact Tree Farmers in January of the year their re-inspection is due to inform them of the steps they need to take to maintain certification. One of these steps is the payment of a $350 certification fee. Once the fee is paid and the re-inspection process is completed, the Tree Farm certification will be valid for five years. No additional fees will be required until re-inspection and recertification five years later.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Fee for Certification

  • Why is the N.C. Tree Farm Program charging a fee?
    In recent months, the demand for certification in North Carolina has increased beyond our capacity to absorb the associated costs into our general operating budget. Our goal with this fee is to recuperate costs for services we provide so that we can maintain the integrity of our programs and services, and improve our long-term financial stability.
  • Does a small Tree Farm pay the same amount for certification as a larger Tree Farm?
    Yes, the certification fee is the same for all Tree Farms because our administrative process and costs are the same for certifying a 10-acre Tree Farm as they are for certifying a 10,000-acre Tree Farm.
  • How will this policy impact landowners with more than one Tree Farm?
    Landowners will pay a certification fee prior to the re-inspection of each Tree Farm. To help manage the cost to the landowner, we will stagger the recertification schedule for landowners who have more than one Tree Farm so that all of their Tree Farms are not due for recertification in the same year. To maintain the integrity of our Tree Farm certifications, we are not able to extend re-inspection schedules beyond five years.
  • Will you offer a volume discount for landowners with multiple Tree Farms?
    We have costs associated with each certification, so we are unable to offer a volume discount.
  • What if a Tree Farmer doesn’t pay the fee?
    If a Tree Farmer whose property is due for re-inspection does not pay the fee by June 1 of that year, the Tree Farm will be decertified. The Tree Farm can be recertified at a later date with receipt of payment and a re-inspection.
  • Can a landowner pay $70 a year instead of the whole $350 at once?
    This is not an annual membership fee but a fee for certification that is due prior to certification. Certification is valid for five years. Once the fee is paid, the landowner will not have any additional certification fees until recertification five years later.
  • Why are you charging a fee for certification instead of an annual membership due?
    We are implementing a fee for certification rather than a membership due because we are striving to administer our program as efficiently and cost-effectively as we can. By charging a fee at the time of certification or recertification, we recuperate expenses when we provide the service, and we only collect certification fees when certification work is done. This has lower administrative costs than an annual membership due, which would require us to collect payments from every landowner every year.
  • Will all Tree Farmers have to pay the certification fee in 2018?
    Landowners will pay the certification fee in the year of their scheduled re-inspection or prior to a new Tree Farm certification. Only those scheduled for re-inspection in 2018 or adding a new Tree Farm to the program in 2018 will pay the fee in 2018. All others will pay their certification fee in the year of their scheduled re-inspection or when they certify a new Tree Farm.
  • How will a Tree Farmer know when to pay the fee?
    In January of each year, we will notify Tree Farmers whose properties are due for a re-inspection that year. This notification will explain the process for recertification and include instructions on how to pay the fee.
  • If a landowner has a Tree Farm in another state, will he/she have to pay a certification fee for that property as well?
    This fee for certification applies only to Tree Farms certified in North Carolina. Landowners who have Tree Farms in another state should contact that state’s Tree Farm Program to determine whether certification fees are required.
  • Can someone other than the landowner pay the fee for certification?
    Our only requirement is that the fee be paid prior to our processing the certification.