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Forest owners can use the forest inventory basics guide to take stock of their pine tree stand

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—Taking a forest inventory can be difficult and time-consuming. Family forest landowners often don’t have the time or necessary training to take inventory of their forest land. Hiring a professional forester to take inventory is important, but it’s also important for family forest owners to have some inventory knowledge themselves.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Forest Inventory Basics Guide was created with the mission of bringing these skills to the public. With this knowledge, family forest owners will be able to set effective, realistic land ownership goals.

According to Becky Barlow, interim associate director of forestry, wildlife and natural resources, taking forest inventory is also a great idea for forest landowners looking to create an informed management plan for their stands.

“Taking a forest inventory will help forest land owners make a well-timed harvest, and maximize revenue,” Barlow said. “So many land owners don’t want to spend the time or money on this, but it is important.”

A New Resource 

This is the most comprehensive guide to forest inventory ever released by the Alabama Extension’s forestry team. Previous forest inventory resources were sporadic and less in-depth.

Inside the Guide

The Forest Inventory Basics Guide includes a plethora of helpful information for forest land owners. There is an outline at the beginning to help users navigate content and acquire the necessary inventory tools.

The guide highlights the importance of keeping a forest inventory. Topics in the first sections include how to use inventory tools. This includes using maps, compasses and traditional measuring tools.

The also guide covers foundational measurement techniques, from measuring tree diameter to setting one’s pace. Other things, like offsetting the distance travelled around objects and understanding property laws, are also discussed at length.

The second half of the guide is devoted to numerically understanding forest land. It goes over basal area (land covered in forest), stand and stock tables, as well as taking samples for analyzing.

Guide Will Equip Family Forest Owners

Barlow said the guide isn’t just meant to help family forest owners keep their own inventories. It was also created to help interpret terms used by professional foresters. Understanding these terms will allow forest landowners to efficiently deal with professionals, which will in turn, help maximize success.

In addition, the guide is a great reference resource for professional foresters. Barlow said brushing up on basic techniques is never a bad idea.

“Consulting foresters can also use this guide to help land owners understand the need for a forest inventory and explain techniques used in the field,” Barlow said. 

More Information 

Find more information for family forest owners, as well as foresters by visiting www.aces.edu. View or download the Forest Inventory Basics Guide.

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