The Basics

What is Continuing Professional Development?

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is the structured maintenance and broadening of knowledge and skills and the development of personal qualities that are necessary for the execution of professional and technical duties throughout a member’s working life.

Why is CPD important?

The Institute of Chartered Foresters champions excellence in forestry and arboriculture, and supports the ongoing development of a competent, innovative and forward-looking profession. CPD is key to this. All practicing members are required to undertake CPD as part of lifelong learning. CPD is necessary to remain competent in your role, keep up-to-date with new developments and advances in science and technology, and gain new knowledge and skills. By joining the ICF you are making a commitment to your ongoing professional development to ensure that you can meet the challenges of your work.

Do I need to keep a CPD record?

Yes. An ongoing commitment to self-development is a fundamental requirement of ICF membership. In order for this to be assessed, it is vital that you keep your CPD records up-to-date.

What is the CPD obligation for Institute of Chartered Foresters members?

All practicing chartered members (Fellows and Professional Members) are required to undertake a minimum of 100 hours of CPD in every three year period. As the name suggests, CPD is ‘continuous’, so you should aim to spread these hours as equally as possible over the three years, undertaking around 33 hours each year.


Your CPD Record

How should I approach my CPD obligation?

Good CPD is not just about clocking hours. Consider the following principles in your approach to professional development – Reflection, Planning, Action and Evaluation. Sometimes learning can occur unexpectedly through experience; it may start at the Action stage rather with Reflection, but it is essential that all members regularly reflect on how their knowledge and skills need to be updated, and plan how they will achieve this. A personal development plan may assist you in this.

How do I decide what CPD to undertake?

A good starting point is to review your existing personal and professional experience. In particular, you should analyse where your skills or knowledge may be lacking and define areas for improvement. How is your current role changing? Have there been technological developments since you qualified? Have any new specialisms or legislative changes emerged? Once you have a clear idea of your areas of weakness you can start to look at potential CPD activities.

What are CPD activities?

A wide range of activities qualify as CPD. While attendance at formal training courses may be most effective for many members, ICF recognises that professional development may also be achieved through other activities like unstructured learning. Our assessors look for evidence of diversity in your CPD activities and how the learning outcomes have been employed in your work.

Can non-ICF events be recorded as CPD?

Yes. The Institute would like to see its members benefit from its own training events (national and regional) and those run in conjunction with others, but this is not mandatory.

Can informal learning and voluntary work be recorded as CPD?

Yes. CPD outside the workplace and other professional activities are becoming more attractive and useful options for professional development. It is important that this form of development is structured, for example, through structured reading and private study, or through voluntary work. This form of CPD can be efficient and cost-effective and can enhance the practitioner’s skills and knowledge, both at general and specialist level.

Can I claim CPD for reading journals and research carried out on the internet?

Yes. If you do any reading or private research that you find beneficial to your job, you should write reflective notes and record this as CPD.

My employer refuses to support me in my CPD activities, what can I do?

The Institute hopes that through our communications, employers will become aware of the substantial benefits of supporting their staff in undertaking CPD. It benefits employers in terms of service delivery, recruitment and retention. Most employers are aware that CPD is compulsory for their chartered staff and will make time available to support their obligations. However, the responsibility to comply with your CPD obligations is ultimately your own and not your employer’s.

My employer will not pay for my CPD training. What can I do?

It is your responsibility to comply with your CPD obligations. Your employer is not obliged to pay for CPD courses or events. Cost-effective CPD events can be found on the ICF Events Calendar.

How do I keep a record of my CPD?

We advise that the simplest way to record CPD is by using the online CPD recording system in the Members’ Area. This is quick and easy to use, but if you prefer you can maintain your records however you chose, as long as it clearly demonstrates your obligation to lifelong learning.

How do I use the online recording system?

Log in to the Members’ Area of the website using your membership number and password. Click on the My CPD tab in the top-level menu and visit My CPD Summary Report.

Who will have access my CPD record?

Any information that you enter into the online recording system will be stored securely and only ICF administrative staff and members of the Professional & Educational Standards Committee will have access to the information. While staff will have full access to your CPD records for monitoring purposes, this information will never be shared with a third party.


Exemptions from CPD

Are there are any exemptions from CPD?

All practicing chartered members are required to complete their CPD requirements. A practicing member is defined as one in full or part-time practice or otherwise giving a professional service as a Chartered Forester or Chartered Arboriculturist. This includes unpaid services.

A non-practicing chartered member is required to sign a declaration of their non-practicing status, rendering them exempt from CPD requirements.

I’m only employed part-time, do I still need to meet the full CPD requirements?

Yes. All practicing chartered members meet the full CPD requirements irrespective of whether they work full or part-time hours. It is important for the profession that part-time members hold and retain the same level of skills and competencies as their full-time counterparts. The mandatory CPD requirements represent what we believe to be the minimum for all members to maintain appropriate and up-to-date knowledge and skills.

I am retired, do I need to record CPD?

No. Retired members are exempt from their CPD obligation as long as they not practicing or offering any professional service (including unpaid services) that would be offered as a Chartered Forester or Chartered Arboriculturist.

I am on a career break, do I need to record CPD?

Yes. Some CPD is normally required of members undertaking career breaks, such as maternity or paternity leave or a period of unemployment. Guidance on this will be provided by the Professional & Educational Standards Committee on an individual basis. Essentially, you are best placed to decide what knowledge and information you need to keep up to date and practice effectively in your chosen field. In some circumstances full exemption may be granted for career breaks of more than one year.

I am currently working overseas, do I need to record CPD?

Yes. Chartered members living and working outside of the UK are required to fulfil the 100 hours requirement. While ICF recognises that they will not have access to Institute events, it is likely that they will have access to similar professional events in the country of residence, as well as unstructured CPD opportunities.


Monitoring CPD

When does the CPD record year run from?

The CPD year runs from 1 January until 31 December each year.

What is the deadline for submission of annual CPD records?

It is your responsibility to keep CPD records up to date on an ongoing basis. However, a key date for your diary is 31 July – this is when records must be fully updated, and after which a report on those not meeting the guidelines is provided to the Professional & Educational Standards committee.

How does ICF ensure members are complicit with their CPD obligation?

All practicing chartered members’ CPD records are monitored annually by the Institute’s Professional & Educational Standards Committee.

Every practising chartered member will, on request, provide the Institute with evidence of compliance with their CPD obligations. This monitoring exercise offers the opportunity for members to discuss any concerns they may have regarding the CPD compliance and to provide valuable feedback to the Professional & Educational Standards Committee. The Committee will provide guidance and advice to any member who is having difficulty in meeting the CPD requirement.

ICF will take action on non-compliance with the CPD requirements. Those members who do not respond to a monitoring request or accept the help offered in this regard, will be referred to the Professional & Educational Standards Committee.

I am unable to complete my annual CPD obligation. What can I do?

If you feel that you are unlikely to be able to meet the minimum CPD requirement, then you should contact us as soon as possible for further guidance and advice. We may be able to advise you on a personal development plan or training plan to discuss with your employer.

For any further questions about CPD or ICF membership, please contact us.