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Forestry

Forest Management Planning

Successful, and profitable, forest resource management calls for defining your objectives (e.g., will it be timber, wildlife habitat, hunting, fishing, hiking, wildflowers, scenery, etc.... or a combination of several of these?) and then developing ... in writing ... a master plan for meeting them. Following are the basic ingredients needed for preparing a sound forest management plan.

1. Identify Specific Management Objectives and Goals Begin by asking yourself these questions:

 · Why do I own forest land?
 · What do I want from my land?

Multiple Use
Your Forests

Forest land may be managed for multiple uses including: recreation, wildlife, timber, aesthetics, water quality or perhaps historical values. You need to decide right away which are most important to you and your family. Which of these you choose may call for tradeoffs. For example, if recreation is to be the primary objective, you may have to be satisfied with less income from timber. Don't even attempt to manage a single acre of forest land for all objectives. However,it is possible to manage various tracts to meet different objectives. Foresters "cruise" property to determine the quantity and quality of timber

2. Inventory Forest Resources and Property

In order to manage something, you must first determine what you have. An inventory is key to evaluating and adopting planning alternatives for your property. In the inventory, identify existing forest resources and related values such as timber, wildlife habitat and streams. Mark on your property map forest stands and significant wildlife habitats, landform features (including roads and streams) and unique areas.

3. Evaluate Management Objective Alternatives and Tradeoffs

Important to your management plan's evaluation process is identification of the tradeoffs that may be required if you are attempting to achieve several management objectives concurrently. Begin by listing each objective along with its benefits, cost to implement and how it would impact others under consideration. From this step will come valuable insight to the preparation of your final forest management plan. Landowner and forester review 
management plan.

4. Prepare Final Management Plan

You should now be ready to prepare - in writing - your final forest management plan, Be sure to include in your plan a timetable of forest management activities along with itemized expenses and income anticipated in achieving your planned objectives. Your plan should also leave room for future modifications to meet changes in objectives, financial needs or in the resource itself.

5. Implement the Plan

No plan can be considered complete until it is put into action. If you've properly researched your objectives and options you are now ready to take that important last step along the trail to sustainable forest management. If you wish to have your plan reviewed by a forestry professional check the agencies listed.

Don't be daunted by the challenge of developing your first forest management plan. Realize it is your key to success, that for you to arrive at the most effective plan will require difficult and complex management decisions.  In deciding when to harvest timber, for example, be aware of its potenially long-lasting consequences.   Arriving at the right decision doesn't come easy even for industry members who manage hundreds of thousands of acres... and many of them operate with trained forestry professionals on their staffs. 

As a private non-industrial forest landowner keep in mind that your trained forestry professional is no further away than your telephone. 

Also see "Professional Foresters" to learn to more about how to obtain professional help.

Also see Selling Your Timber TIMBER HARVESTING.

Adapted from Sustainable Forest - Key to Your Future! Alabama Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee.  Montgomery, Alabama