About Master Loggers



Find A Certified Master Logger


How Master Loggers are Making a Difference

Step One:

StepStep 2 One:   The company contacts the MLC Administrator who then sends out a complete readiness packet outlining expectations and standards. Then company schedules a 3-5 hour on-site interview:

  • Performance standards are explained
  • The commitment to superior management practice is defined
  • 3-5 past and current harvest sites are identified
  • 3 professional references are obtained
  • Company has opportunity for some self-reporting/evaluation

Step Two:

Step Two:  Field inspection by an NEMLC accredited field verifierStep 2

Step Three:

Step 3Step Three:  The company reviews the NEMLC application for accuracy, provides challenges, clarification or explanation, signs code of ethics, and approves sending application to certification board

Step Four:

Step Four:  Certifying Board reviews applicationStep 4

Step Five:

Step 5Step Five:  The Certifying Board meets and votes on acceptance of application

Step Six:

Step Six: Newly certified NEMLC companies are announced at a public reception

Step 6Rec 2016

2016 Master Loggers

What is it like to work with a Master Logger?

The Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands (TCNEF) and the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine (PLC) have partnered to produce this new educational video of a timber harvest by a professional Master Logger in Maine that highlights the perspective of the landowner and the steps necessary to balance the needs of the landowner while working in collaboration with the contractor to conduct proper forest management.

Shot at a site in Damariscotta, Maine in the fall and early winter of 2018, the video titled, “Working with a Professional Master Logger: The Landowners Perspective,” shows the before, during, and after phases of a harvest and the careful planning by the logger, CTL Land Management Services of Washington, ME, to ensure the aesthetic and forest health goals of the landowner are met in addition to the financial objectives.
CTL Land Management Services is a PLC Member and a certified Maine Master Logger. Many thanks to CTL and everyone else who made this project a success! 

Watch Now


"Members of the Master Logger community belong to the most prestigious group of professional loggers in North America. They have widespread recognition and credibility —both geographically and across all facets of this business. Master Logger Certification is an excellent program that provides an efficient way to help manage change while certifying to major customers that the fiber Master Loggers produce is done to a recognized standard that has been verified by a third party."
—Greg Barrows, Verso Paper

"Master Logger Certification has helped me meet personal goals by helping to stay focused on safety and professionalism, and demanding that of employees."
—Cohort #2 Master Logger company

"For us, it's about personal recognition. There is no other team like ours and our work IS who we are. We like that Master Logger Certification recognizes that and creates a standard for the rest of the loggers in our state. And we know the mills are checking to see if we're certified. When times are hard, it's good to know that we'll be last on their list for downsizing because of our certification."
—Cohort # 3 father-and-son Master Logger Certified team

Questions for a prospective logger:

Does your operation have a waste wood/ biomass market – what will happen to the brush?

Do you have references from foresters and other landowners?

What other services can you provide, for example, I want two of the trails stumped, a food plot, etc.?

Can you provide proof of all insurances, trucking, liability, comp. etc.?

How is the wood being tracked and accounted for once it leaves my land?

What training have you and your employees completed?

Will you have a written contract that includes my expectations of what the roads, trails and landing will look like after the harvest?

If you choose a Master Logger you can be assured that they will have good answers to all of these questions!

Why do we need Certification?
The wood products industry has been under intense scrutiny in recent years as environmentalists, consumers, landowners, and policy makers have sought to achieve a balance among production, the stability of resource-based economies, and the long-term sustainability of our nation’s forests. A number of initiatives have resulted, and the focus has primarily been upon land management, production practices of wood products industries, and the safety of individual loggers.

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certify that wood products industries are managing their lands in a manner that will not jeopardize the availability of forest resources for future generations. The International Standardization Organization (ISO 14001) certifies production practices, ensuring that mills are operated in a safe and efficient manner. State-specific logger training programs certify the technical and safety skills of individual loggers working in wood harvest operations in the Northern Forest region.

While these initiatives have led to improvements, one element of the wood products industry remains largely unmonitored. Wood harvesting companies, ranging from sole proprietors to large-scale businesses with multiple employees, have perhaps the greatest direct impact on the health of the forest ecosystem. Their operations supply raw material for wood products industries, but they also have the potential to conserve or compromise water and soil quality, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and forest aesthetics.

Recognizing the need to certify natural resource harvesting companies, the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine began to develop the Master Logger Certification (MLC) Program in January 2000. A draft MLC document outlining the certification requirements was written and widely distributed to wood harvesters, forest products industry representatives, and policy makers during the spring and summer of 2000. Their feedback was incorporated into the document, and the MLC program was prepared for the piloting process. The first cohort of MLC companies began the certification process in January 2001 and were certified on July 31, 2001. Subsequently, in 2005, an independent non-profit organization – the Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands – took over the administration of the MLC program, creating the conditions for MLC’s status as a third-party certification system. Shortly thereafter, the MLC program in Maine combined efforts with the Southern New England MLC program to create the NEMLC program, serving harvesting companies in six Northeastern states (ME, NH, MA, CT, RI, VT and NY). NEMLC continues to collaborate with MLC programs in Atlantic Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI), Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Read more about TCNF’s certifications

Who is on the Certification Board?

The NEMLC Certification Board represents the multiple interests in and values of the Northeastern Forest. Members have been state representatives, retired and current loggers, retired forestry practioners, academics, business consultants, and representatives of environmental, social justice, and regional development organizations. Members have expertise in one or more areas of natural resource management and rural economic development. To be eligible, NEMLC Certification Board members must not stand to receive any personal or corporate financial gain from the forest products industry or their participation on the NEMLC Certification Board.

The functions of the NEMLC Certification Board are:

Reviewing company applications and reports
Discussing applications and reports, coming to consensus decisions, and directing NEMLC staff as to their decisions or need for further information.
Guiding the NEMLC program in continuous improvement and contributing to program policies and procedures.

Current NEMLC Certification Board Members:

  • Jeff Dubis, Associate Professor, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Ranger School, Wanakena, NY
  • Wendy Farrand, Speaker/Writer, Limerick, ME
  • Anil Raj Kizha, Assistant Professor Forest Operations, University of Maine, Orono, ME
  • Charles Loring, Jr., Director of the Penobscot Nation Department of Natural Resources, Indian Island, ME
  • Michelle Matteo, Forester, West Haven, CT
  • Jon Pottle, Environmental Lawyer, Bangor ME
  • Larry Poulin, Retired Master Logger, Readfield, ME
  • Pam Wells, Landowner, Old Town, ME
What are the different types of certification?

The Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands (TCNF) is engaged in several activities designed to enhance the credibility of the Northeast Master Logger Certification Program and create additional market opportunities for participants in the program. Descriptions of these activities are provided below.

SmartLogging – For Loggers

The Northeast Master Logger Certification Program (MLC), the first third-party logger certification program in the country, earned the first SmartLogging certification and is audited annually by the Preferred by Nature to ensure continued compliance with a rigorous set of environmental and social standards. SmartLogging is intended to complement Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification and recognize responsible harvesting practices. Loggers that meet the Northeast Master Logger Certification standards will also meet the SmartLogging requirements.

MLC pursued SmartLogging certification as a way to increase overall credibility of the program by subjecting TCNF policies and procedures to a credible third party review. This certificate also establishes the Maine Master Logger program in the global marketplace by demonstrating practices that meet an international standard in an increasingly international system of commerce. Preferred by Nature program bring this global recognition to the Northeast Master Logger Certification Program and ensure that as similar harvest certification programs are created around the US there is an established precedent for a high standard of timber harvesting practices.

FSC Forest Management Group Certification: For Loggers and Landowners

TCNF administers an FSC-certified group of family forest landowners throughout the Northeast. Under this group arrangement, natural resource professionals can inexpensively gain access to FSC certification for their landowner clients. TCNF is the administrative body that holds the FSC certificate and has overall responsibility for compliance with the FSC Northeast Regional Standard. The involvement of a Master Logger in the harvest of member properties will help ensure compliance with the FSC Standard and provide a consistency of practice across all properties.

The TCNF certified group has been formed to provide low-cost access to FSC certification for landowners, consulting foresters, and Master Loggers throughout the state of Maine. The FSC Standard is an internationally recognized framework of forest management that acknowledges a commitment to high environmental standards, social responsibility, and economic sustainability. The certified group is appropriate for properties of all sizes. The primary benefit of FSC certification at this time is an assurance to landowners that forest management meets a credible and independent high standard. In the short term, the financial benefits from premiums found in a certified marketplace should be considered a secondary outcome if achieved at all. In fact, increased market share is the most likely economic benefit. However, FSC-certified markets are increasing throughout the region and entry into the pool at this time will allow landowners and the Master Loggers harvesting the wood to take advantage of markets as they develop.

FSC Chain of Custody Certification: For Wood Processors and Loggers

TCNF serves as an administrator for a group Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody certification. FSC Chain of Custody certification allows Master Logger companies to purchase FSC-certified material (stumpage), harvest the wood, and haul to FSC Chain of Custody certified mills or brokers. Chain of Custody certification requires little change from current Master Logger practices, particularly in Maine where a legal requirement for the use of “Trip Tickets” is in effect. TCNF addresses the administrative and annual reporting requirements established by the FSC and audited annually by Preferred by Nature. Under this program, the Master Logger Company is required to contact TCNF to verify the FSC status of the forest where you will be purchasing wood. At this time, only companies with 15 or fewer employees may participate in this group (companies with 16-25 employees may participate if you have a turnover of less than $5,000,000 in revenue). Enrollment in the program is required through TCNF and consists of agreeing to and signing an acknowledgement form and consenting to the possibility of an annual site visit by Preferred by Nature. The MLC company must also maintain documentation on the volume of purchases and sales made of FSC certified material.

Our Partners & Sponsors


Make a Donation Today







Giving ONline

If you would Like to donate to the Master Logger (501 c 3) program – Contact us and we will send you a link to pay online.

Giving By Check

Please send checks to: Master Logger Program PO Box 1036, Augusta, ME 04332

We are a 501 c 3 organization

How Donations Are Used

The Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands has been committed to raising the funds necessary to cover the costs of certification and continuous improvement for harvesting companies in the Northeast who are able to meet the point-of-harvest certification standard. Generous gifts from a variety of donors and grantors comprise the funding for this program.

Get In Touch


Toll-free hotline for comments on Master Loggers’ work.

The Northeast Master Logger Certification program maintains this hotline to receive feedback regarding NEMLC companies. The hotline has been used to relay praise for NEMLC companies’ work as well as concerns about NEMLC company practices. The hotline may be used anonymously. NEMLC staff follow up on each hotline phone call within 48 hours and keep records of each hotline call and the follow up activities for five years.