Forest Management and Planning
The hardwood forest ecosystems in the Eastern United States are generally biologically diverse, and with that diversity brings with it complexity. Forest Management and Planning is the process of caring for the health of a forest ecosystem, whether a large forest or small woodlot. Proper forest management can bring favorable returns, both for the landowner and the forest and its many inhabitants. Forest planning depends on the manner in which that forest or woodlot is managed. The principal components within a forest ecosystem of course are the trees; besides possible income from their wood value, they also provide clean air, clean water, and habitat for a variety of other plants and animals.
In order for an effective forest management plan to be developed, it is essential to know a lot about the trees in that forest or woodlot; the species composition, density, quality and their overall health. The primary step necessary in obtaining the level of information needed to make a proper analysis of the woodlot’s condition is to do an inventory of its trees.
Benefits of good forest management plan include:
- Timber sale scheduling
- Wildlife habitat improvements
- Improved accessibility
- Enhancing and protecting water ways
- Future sustained timber growth
Generally, when a forest inventory is done, the property is divided into distinct “stands”. A forest stand is an area which is described by the dominant tree species or species-group (Northern hardwood stand, Oak stand, Hemlock, etc.) with those dominant species being similar in age and size characteristics. Stand delineation allows forestland managers the ability to prescribe unique, focused silvicultural applications to promote the desired goals for your forestland. Once stand information has been collected, processed and analyzed, suggested actions (or “prescriptions”) are offered, with the idea of maximizing the variety of goals the landowner may have.
The prescriptions for forest management activities may include:
- Timber harvests
- Timber stand improvements
- Grapevine removal
- Treatments to understory vegetation (fern, grass, striped maple) that inhibit reproduction of desirable tree species
Most treatments are prescribed to help the forest grow at its maximum potential while also helping the landowner achieve his or her goals.
Changes in the forest structure help with improving wildlife habitat, improving accessibility within the forest for recreation, and improving the general health of the forest. Forest management plans can also be geared toward wildlife enhancement opportunities including:
- tree and shrub plantings to attract various species to a property
- development of food and cover plots for deer and turkey
- creation of nesting habitat for various avian species
- creation of snag and den trees in the forest for a host of wildlife species
Where open fields exist adjacent to forest cover, connecting corridors and cover plots are designed to retain wildlife or to make their visits more frequent. Also, recreational trails for hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, ATV riding, and mountain biking can be designed to maximize enjoyment of a property’s natural features, and oftentimes can be built in conjunction with a timber harvest event.
Management plans also can be developed to include water-based planning. From pond design, development and maintenance to large-scale watershed management for municipalities, we can tailor a plan to suit your needs. We currently manage the forests of municipal watersheds for the objective of protecting the area’s water source by controlling the erosion and sedimentation of the water supply. On a smaller scale, developing a private pond on your property can provide you with many benefits, while possibly enhancing your property’s value. We can assist with the design, installation, maintenance and stocking issues for a new pond, or advise on how to reclaim an old pond.
Aesthetics are an important part of any forest management plan. Managing for the natural beauty that may exist along a trail or waterway is important when considering forest management activities. For example, scenic vistas can be created through responsible timber harvesting where dense forest obstructs an otherwise breathtaking view.