on your property
Which tree is good
for firewood and which should be left standing? Most forest owners
do not know how to decide. Sadly, many fine trees are cut up for
firewood only because they were easy to fell with a chainsaw.
The leaners and crooked trees are left behind to reproduce, reducing
timber quality across New York. With better trees harder to find,
timber industry jobs could be lost. It all starts with the decisions
of private forest owners.
practices for cutting firewood
trees based on a written plan.
Invite a professional, reputable forester to cruise your woodlot
and provide you with an inventory and plan. Generally speaking,
forest plans include an inventory of timber, maps, descriptions
of stand quality, and a schedule of activities to improve the
condition of the forest to meet the owner's goals. The plan will
identify which trees are to be removed due to poor quality. These
trees are called "culls." Cull trees suitable for burning
(ash, hard maple, oak, hickory, cherry, beech) should be the only
trees removed for firewood. Other trees like aspen, pine, and
soft maple may be cut down, but they do not make good firewood.
If you have developed
your own plan, follow it and encourage your neighbors to use good
judgment when selecting trees for firewood.
Mark trees that
are planned to remain standing.
In some silvicultural practices, certain trees are selected as
residual or crop trees. These trees will remain standing and growing
for the long-term. If you have trees that will remain, mark them
with paint or flagging to make the job of thinning easier and
more efficient. Cut away the appropriate unmarked trees, leaving
some for seedling protection and cutting up others for firewood.
felling to avoid damaging other trees.
Directional felling is the process of determining the direction
a given tree will fall and making cuts to actually steer the tree
as it falls. A "felling hinge" is the hallmark of a
good directional cut. It is a safe, efficient, and satisfying
way to cut a tree down. Residual trees should not be damaged during
woodland saw work. These residual trees are your future timber
and wildlife habitat. If you are not sure of how to bring down
a leaner, learn.
Improve your chainsaw
Chainsaws cannot cut logs by themselves; they need to be under
the control of a skilled cutter. Most chainsaw users are not as
skilled as they could be. This leads to poor selection of trees
to be cut (see above), damage to other trees in the forest, and
worst of all, serious bodily injury. Ask about classes at local
chainsaw stores, through the NY Logger Training Program, through
the NY Forest Owners Association, or through the national Game
of Logging program for forest owners. Each class will give you
more information to make good cuts, not bad decisions.
on chainsawing effectively . . .
Leave some trees
downed to protect seedlings from deer.
Fallen trees form barriers to deer, yet allow seedlings to grow
vigorously. Avoid the temptation to "clean up" the woodland
floor of branches and wind throws. Ice storm damage and trees
intentionally felled to protect seedlings are especially helpful
in this regard. By obstructing even small areas of deer browsing,
woodlot diversity will improve.
logs from the forest to avoid insect infestation.
A pile of logs in a forest can be a target for infestation by
wood-boring insects. By removing wood from the forest, you will
decrease the likelihood of infestation. Nuisance pests like ants
and centipedes can be brought inside all too easily. If you have
hardwood or log construction in your home, trying to control wood
boring insects is difficult and expensive. Better to prevent these
kinds of problems by taking the firewood logs out of the forest