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RFS Qualifications


The Royal Forestry Society awards three nationally-recognised professional certificates: in Arboriculture, Forestry and Silviculture


Qualifications Landing Page



Qualification Overview

RFS Certificates are nationally-recognised professional qualifications. They are valued by peers and employers throughout the arboriculture, forestry and land-based sectors. Completion of a RFS Certificate requires dedication and hard work, combining theoretical knowledge with practical skills competencies. 

Currently, the Royal Forestry Society awards three separate qualifications. These include the RFS/ABC Certificate in Arboriculture, the RFS/ABC Certificate in Forestry and the RFS/ABC Certificate in Silviculture. RFS Certificates conform with the national QCF system.  

RFS Qualifications act as either standalone qualifications or can be combined with a suite of practical tickets to comprise a post nominal certification. Eg. RFS Cert Arb


The ABC Level 2/3 qualifications are as follows:  

Certification Overview


Each RFS Certification comprises a taught course at either Level 2 (Arboriculture, Forestry) or 3 (Silviculture), plus a suite of 8 practical certificates of competency. As stated above, each element is a stand-alone qualification. When combined as a "portfolio" of academic and practical competencies, candidates are eligible to apply for the appropriate RFS Certification. 

The Level 2/3 certificates in Arboriculture, Forestry and Silviculture are validated by ABC Awards, a leading national awarding organisation renowned for high quality vocational qualifications. RFS has worked closely with ABC Awards to develop the curriculum for each certificate. For this reason, the ABC Level 2/3 awards are recognised as the qualification standard however qualifications from City and Guilds and Universities may also be submitted. Please see our equivalency scheme for further information.

For the certificates of competency in practical skills, RFS recognises qualifications awarded through NPTC (City & Guilds) and Lantra. These are the leading awarding bodies for land-based and environmental training courses and qualifications in the UK. Titles and coding for compulsory and optional certificates of competency are provided on our course pages. We only accept certificates of competency that are formally assessed as licenses to practice, not lesser certificates of training or attendance. 

RFS does not provide direct delivery of any course material. Candidates are responsible for completing each element at their own pace, and with approved educational and training providers of their own choice. There are several learning routes, including full-time, part-time and distance learning options. Many of the practical training courses are offered through colleges or independent training providers on a day or block-release basis. Candidate should ensure that the courses and training they take will meet RFS requirements, see relevant information on specific course pages. 

500Th Cert Arb 

More information:

  •  Course Structure here
  •  Application requirements and procedure here


RFS working with Horticultural Correspondence College and Kent Woodland Employment Scheme to promote RFS Qualifications

The Royal Forestry Society is working with partners throughout the arboriculture and forestry sector to promote forestry skills and qualifications. In Kent, we are working with local estates, Kent Woodland Employment Scheme (KWES) and Horticultural Correspondence College (HCC) to support a unique apprenticeship programme leading to the RFS Certificate in Forestry.

Photo, left to right: David Keeler (Forester, Mereworth Estate), Ben Bower (KWES), Max Faulkner (HCC), Ted Wilson (RFS), George Haines (KWES Apprentice) and Roy Hopkins (KWES).

Photo credit: Adam Todd (RFS).