What good is a forest management plan?
The forest is a huge investment, perhaps the least bit in terms of money. Our woodlands provide habitat for wildlife, both rare and not so rare; they supply clean air and clean water; they offer a place to hike, to hunt, to enjoy being outdoors; they are a classroom full of endless learning opportunities. We should remember that we heat with wood, our homes are built of wood, and the average American uses 749 pounds of paper products a year (ecology.com) which is equivalent to one 100-foot-tall Douglas fir tree in paper and wood products per person each year.
That amounts to a lot of trees. Luckily, where we live in New England trees happen to grow really, really well. What happens when a field is abandoned? It grows into woodland (albeit a crowded one with invasives to deal with). There are not many places on this planet where trees just grow.
You wouldn’t take the management of your retirement investments into your own hands; instead you have a trusted advisor. The woodlands, like those investments, can be managed in order to promote growth and maintain value. Thus a forester is your woodland investment advisor. Their job is to draft a plan that takes into account a landowner’s long-term goals for a forest. Forest management plans are prescriptions for a healthy, sustainable, functional landscape.
The forest tracts that surround us all have had different histories with different landowners. Some had plans, others did not. There are places that were cut only when something was needed, like firewood. There are other places where a logger shows up and makes an offer to the landowner, and that money was used to buy a new car, to pay college tuition, or to put a new deck on the house. Over time, forests that are cut without a long-term plan can suffer. The “sins of the past” add up. Habitat values decline, the wood production wanes and the woodlands become fragmented.
With a management plan in place you are protecting your investment. Working with a forester and developing a plan over time ensures a healthy forest that provides priceless ecosystem services to us (clean air, clean water) as well as healthy wildlife habitat and renewable wood resources.
Are you a woodland owner interested learning more about a plan?