It was established on 15 October 1822 by Charles Felix of Sardinia as "Amministrazione forestale per la custodia e la vigilanza dei boschi".
An agency under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, the CFS acts as a park ranger force responsible for protecting Italy's natural resources, the environment, countryside and ecosystems, especially national parks and national forests. It also acts as criminal investigative department. Its duties include arresting poachers, investigating environmental violationsand, counterfeit foods, safeguarding protected animal species, enforcing endangered species laws, and preventing and fighting wildfires through 15 regional commands and its fleet of 22 fire-fighting aircraft. The CFS is part of the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia (DIA) (Anti-Mafia Investigation Department). The CFS is also responsible for civil protection in Italy's mountain areas and for disaster relief. If necessary, the CFS can also be used in tasks of public order in the city and any urban context.