Developing a forest stewardship plan for logging
This web article explains
how landowners and foresters can develop forest stewardship plans
to determine when or if a timber harvest should take place.
Step 1: Identify
your ownership objectives.
describe what you want to get from your property, either the
material goods such as timber or the opportunity for experiences
such as privacy, recreation, or hunting. . . maybe all these
and more. A good starting point is to ask yourself a few questions:
Why do you own the property? What do you like? What do you dislike?
What do you need (or want) in 5, 10, or 20 years? When you discuss
the answers to these questions with your spouse and/or others,
you will be able to identify what you want to accomplish. A
forester or Master Forest Owner can help you evaluate your objectives
and whether they are compatible with the resources on your property.
to get skilled assistance with your forest decisions
Step 2: Understand
what the plan can do
A good forest stewardship
does not have to be complex or expensive. A basic plan for your
woodlot provides aesthetic, economic and logistical benefits.
The plan allows landowners to integrate seemingly complicated
objectives such as timber harvesting, habitat enhancement for
specific wildlife species, and recreational trails. Planning
ensures that management activities move towards and include
the landowner's objectives and provide the optimal variety of
desired benefits. For landowners who want to deduct the value
of their forestry work as a business expense, they must meet
the IRS definition as an active participant. A management plan
can document the role of the landowner in the management process
or the intent of certain activities.
Step 3: Know what
is in a forest plan
A typical management plan has four sections:
1. Statement of
the landowner objectives. It's important that these are the
objectives of the landowner and not the objectives of the
forester helping the landowner.
2. Property and
forest description. This would include: a legal property description;
an assessment of the condition of the different areas or management
units for timber, wildlife, recreation, or other uses; characterizations
of the soils, especially any limitations of use such as poorly
drained or stony soils.
3. Work plan or
calendar of scheduled events. You'll likely want a fairly
detailed plan for the current and next year, but then more
general targets for the following 5 and 10 year time frame.
Each year you can check the tasks completed and revise the
current year plan. Part of the schedule might include the
tools, equipment, or resources you'll need to complete some
4. Appendix that
includes maps, historic records, aerial photographs, old pictures,
lists of trees or birds seen on the property, etc.
You have likely recognized
that the planning process will be easiest with some outside assistance.
Fortunately, there are numerous tools, people, and organizations
you can access.
- People who can help
include a corps of trained forest-owning volunteers, the Master
Forest Owners, who you can reach through your local Cooperative
- The NYS Department
of Environmental Conservation has a program called "Cooperative
Forest Management" in which public service foresters may
be able to visit your property and prepare a stewardship management
plan with you free of charge.
- You can contact
a consulting forester or an industrial forester for assistance
with a plan, though they may charge a fee or expect some future
relationship for their services.
Once you have your
plan use it to your full advantage. Use the schedule of activities
to plan the yearly events, perhaps when children are home
for the summer or in-laws come to visit. Use the description
of the different management units to think about places to
put hiking trails, picnic areas, or potential bird watching
locations. Take the advice of your forester to help you evaluate
offers from someone who shows up at your door and wants to
buy your timber -- if your plan doesn't call for a timber
sale then you're likely better off to let the offer pass.
A management plan is
a useful tool that will serve you for years to come. It is a critical
starting point for the long-term stewardship of your wooded acreage.