Planning to harvest your woodlot can be overwhelming. Choosing which stands to harvest, how to harvest, when to harvest, and hiring and managing a logging crew and timber sales contract is a lot of work without proper experience. Moreover, mistakes made on your property can literally leave scars on the landscape that last a lifetime. The best way to ensure a proper, profitable, and beneficial harvest is to hire a consulting forester. Foresters create a management plan for your property, manage timber sales, and ensure logging contractors are harvesting in such a way that isn’t overly aggressive or damaging to the land long-term. If you are a proud woodlot owner and looking for long-term enjoyment and benefit from your land, hiring a forester is the only way to go.
Creating a Management Plan
Do you know The difference between a red maple and sugar maple? Do you know when a clearcut might be helpful or harmful? If not, that’s ok. A forester will help you out. The career of a forester consists of studying the science and ecology of trees and forests and using that knowledge to determine if and when timber should be harvested. They then design the harvests in such a way that promote growth and regeneration of valuable species, ensuring a long-term value to your land. They can analyze your land and the composition of your forest, assess its health and value, and create a plan that optimizes for the goals you want to see. Whether you want to manage your land to promote deer habitat or produce the most valuable and fastest-growing timber possible, a management plan drafted by a licensed consulting forester will create a long-term plan to give you the outcomes you need.
Managing Timber Sales
Even a small woodlot can contain an amazingly diverse sort of wood products. Hardwood pulp, hardwood saw logs, veneer, spruce and fir saw logs, cedar shingle stock; the list goes on. Without a forester, not only will you have to negotiate a price for each product, but you will have no way of knowing whether products are being sorted correctly to maximize your return. The difference between a piece of pulpwood and a single high-grade hardwood log can literally be thousands of dollars. If you hire a consulting forester, you assure you are getting a fair market price for every stick of wood.
Assuring a Quality Harvest
Timber harvesting can be dirty work. If not careful, your prized piece of forest land can become ugly, muddy, and destroyed. Heavy logging equipment can cause deep ruts, and those ruts can lead to erosion and impact the water quality on your land. Moreover, while most loggers are good, honest people, even those with the best intentions can harvest more wood than you wanted, leaving the land looking like a war zone. Foresters are trained in water management and people management. They can ensure that best practices are followed to avoid damaging the forest floor, and they can take measurements to ensure logging contractors are removing only the amount of wood you are comfortable with. In the event a mistake is made, a forester can enforce corrective action, including trail and rut repair, stream crossing removal and close-out, and, in extreme cases, even seedling replanting.
How Do I Hire a Consulting Forester?
The best way to hire a consulting forester is to search the Society of American Foresters Registry. SAF runs a certification system that certifies foresters based on education and experience. The Association of Consulting Foresters also runs a directory of foresters for you can choose from. Remember, consulting foresters are there to help you. ask as many questions as you can and be clear about what you want out of a harvest. If possible, go for a walk with them on your land and discuss the property. They will help you understand every step of the process and ensure you are pleased with the results, both financially, recreationally, and environmentally.