What will you do with your woodland? Some landowners choose to glet nature take its course.h They believe that nature, left to its own processes, will be a better manager than they ever could be. While this may be true in some situations, many of the natural processes that formed todayfs woodlands have been impaired by human activity. Wildfires that once renewed certain types of woodland have been curtailed. Non-native insects and diseases have decimated populations of some tree species. Introduced plants and animals have replaced native species. Residential, commercial, and industrial development, along with its transportation system, has fragmented woodlands into smaller, more isolated pieces. Wildlife populations are substantially different from a century ago. Centuries of human influence and disruption of natural processes have impaired forest ecosystems. Doing nothing is not the same thing as gallowing nature to take its course.h The alternative is to become a woodland steward by actively managing for wood, wildlife, or recreation while protecting the quality of your natural resources (soil, water, wildlife, trees, and other plants) for future generations to enjoy.

Your woodland is a renewable resource; however, trees are long-lived and take many years to mature. Decisions you make now about wildlife management, harvesting trees, or controlling invasive species will influence the character of your woodland for many years into the future. As a woodland owner you need to plan for the long term because whatever you do\or donft do\will have long-term effects.

Start by developing a woodland stewardship plan. This process will help you determine objectives; use your time, energy, and money efficiently; make informed decisions; avoid costly errors; and evaluate your progress.