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Starting A Forest Management Plan

People own forested land for many reasons, including income from the wood, recreational purposes, and aesthetics. You can’t afford to ignore the value of this asset, so a well-prepared forest management plan will help you meet your goals now and into the future.

Earl Garber is a past president of the National Association of Conservation Districts. He says to start your plan by conferring with local conservation and forestry professionals for their assessment and technical assistance. The management practices you develop will depend on your objectives, as well as the age and condition of the stand.

"Is the stand ready for a thinning? Is the stand mature or is it at a stage where you go in and remove a percentage of the trees? One of the other things that you have to look at is, what’s the invasive species condition of your forest?" he says. "Are there some species of trees that you need to remove that are competing with the one that you’d like to harvest for income in the future?"

Garber says a good management plan includes both short-term and long-term goals.

"When you’re talking about a pine forest, you’re maybe talking about a 30-35 year plan before the trees are mature, you do a clean cut and start over. When you get to hardwood, depending where you’re located, it can anywhere from a 50-to-a-100-year plan to manage that hardwood with incremental harvesting and control of species that you don’t want," says Garber. "So if there’s any part of the natural resources long-term planning, it’s forestry."

Create a timeline of specific tasks and revisit the plan every five-years or so.

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