Training and qualified contractors

The Forest Analysis and Inventory Branch (FAIB) manages certification and testing for these three activities:

  • Vegetation Resources Inventory (VRI) Phase I Photo Interpretation;
  • VRI Ground Sampling (sample types identified in the VRI, CMI and NVAF ground sampling procedure manuals).

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, delivery of VRI certification courses and exams may be delayed.  Please contact (ground sampling) or (photo interpretation) for more information.

VRI Phase 1 photo interpretation training and certification requirements

VRI Photo Interpretation Certification consists of three components: self-directed or third-party led training, operational experience, and a certification exam administered by FAIB.

FAIB does not presently offer formal VRI Photo Interpretation training directly.  Currently all Trainee VRI Photo Interpreters interested in certification are mentored under direct supervision from a certified VRI photo interpreter in the private sector.

B.C. VRI photo interpretation certification can be obtained either by way of:

  1. Successfully completing the full B.C. VRI certification program as a new trainee (described in more detail below); or
  2. Holding certification in forest inventory photo interpretation from another jurisdiction, combined with having successfully challenged the BC VRI photo interpretation exam.

Effective 2021, current VRI photo interpretations certificates will not expire. FAIB will not automatically return individuals to a certified status if their certificates have previously expired under older certification policies.

The training methods for VRI photo interpretation certification have changed due to:

  • Advances in technology
  • Significant time demands on a limited number of specialists
  • The need to increase program capacity in a timely fashion

FAIB has developed a downloadable VRI Photo Interpretation Training Package covering the VRI Phase 1 fundamentals in response to these changes. This package provides materials for a VRI photo interpretation training course to allow an independent contractor or technical school to administer the training package. This course helps photo interpreters:

  • Gain knowledge and skills to complete VRI Photo Interpretation work successfully
  • Learn techniques from certified industry professionals
  • Become familiar with the concepts required for the VRI Photo Interpretation Certification exam

VRI Photo Interpretation certification requires successfully completing a FAIB-administered challenge exam.  There are two possible pathways to be eligible for challenging the VRI photo interpretation certification exam:

  1. New trainees will:
    • Complete the VRI Photo Interpretation Training Package and at least six maps over a minimum two-year period
    • Work under the supervision of a certified VRI Phase I Photo Interpreter before taking the certification exam; and
    • Preferably work on a variety of map sheets across more than one project or area of the province
  2. For those certified under a formal forest inventory photo interpretation certification program of another jurisdiction, proof of certification from another jurisdiction must be provided to FAIB prior to challenging the VRI certification exam

Challenge exams are held on an on-demand basis. Due to the time required to prepare an exam and internal staff commitments, a lead time of approximately one month can be expected between the time of request and when the challenge exam can be held.

Those wishing to use the VRI Photo Interpretation Training Package should register with FAIB before downloading it by sending their request to to be notified of any updates.

Registration information from individuals will be retained on file with FAIB internally and subsequently not shared with other external parties.  Registration is vital in several ways. It allows FAIB to gauge training demand and future VRI Photo Interpretation Certification and provide contact information for distributing any future updates to the training package.

Please go to the following links to download the training material:

VRI ground sampling training and certification requirements

VRI Ground Sampling includes the following sample types: VRI, CMI, YSM, L-type sampling and NVAF. Samplers must have an "Active" status to be eligible to bid on all Ground sampling contracts.

For sample types identified in the VRI and CMI ground sampling procedures manuals:

  • Active Status: Sampler successfully established a minimum of five ground samples (timber or ecology, as applicable) within the previous seven years.  Certification remains valid for seven years
  • Inactive Status: Sampler has not successfully established five VRI ground samples within the previous seven years. Certification status is changed to "inactive"

To reactivate "Active" certification following expiry, the candidate must pass a VRI Ground Sampling Challenge Exam.

For NVAF sampling:

  • Active Status: Sampler successfully sampled of a minimum of twenty trees within the previous seven years. Certification remains valid for seven years
  • Inactive Status: Sampler has not completed 20 NVAF trees within the previous seven years will have their certification status changed to "Inactive"

To reactivate "Active" following expiry please contact

Qualified contractors

Information for contractors:

Read this overview (PDF, 15KB) to gain a quick overview and understanding of VRI and how we implement the program. Contractors must receive certification through FAIB-approved training programs before conducting photo interpretation or ground sampling projects financially supported by FAIB. This requirement includes projects that will create data stored in BC Government databases or are used for B.C. Government purposes such as Timber Supply Review.

The VRI Photo Interpretation Company List (PDF, 20KB) provides information to help locate photo interpreters and companies for VRI photo interpretation projects. It includes companies engaged in VRI photo interpretation projects in the last ten years AND employs one or more VRI Phase I certified photo interpreters. Note: We do not guarantee the accuracy of the list.

Please notify if you note any errors or omissions.

Forest Analysis and Inventory Branch maintains a list of companies or individuals that employ one or more "active" field sampling crew(s).

Please contact, VRI Inventory Forester, to reach a certified VRI ground sampler.