3. Develop Stand Objectives and Management Alternatives
An inventory shows the current condition of your woodland, but a forester can use the inventory to predict the future development of each stand by considering:
- Which tree species currently dominate the overstory (overhead canopy of trees)?
- Which species are present in the understory (trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants beneath the overstory)?
- Considering site characteristics, which tree species show the greatest potential to dominate the site in the future? (A site is an area of woodland with relatively uniform growing conditions such as soil, moisture, and slope.)
- What undesirable tree species are currently competing for the resources on the site?
- How will the tree species that are present respond to different management practices?
- What damaging agents are present or likely to occur in the stand and how will they affect the stand in the future?
More than one management practice is usually available for each stand, but it may not be easy to reach your property goals, given the woodland resources and sites on your property. A forester will ask you to choose a management objective for each stand. Knowing your objectives will help narrow your choice of potential management practices for each stand. Such practices may include:
- Planting trees.
- Improving the timber stand (thin, weed, cull, prune).
- Harvesting timber.
- Fencing out livestock.
- Improving wildlife habitat.
- Installing erosion control structures on roads.
- Constructing access roads.
- Developing trails.
- Developing recreational facilities.
- Establishing fire protection or controlled burning.
- Controlling pests (insects, diseases, animals).
- Controlling weeds and brush.
4. Assess Management Constraints
Consider these management constraints when choosing which practices to implement:
- The amount of time you have available to do the work.
- Your experience and expertise levels.
- The availability of skilled contract labor.
- The equipment available.
- Your financial limitations.
- The availability of government financial aid.
- The potential economic return, including the tax implications (see Chapter 14: Financial Considerations).
- The presence of cultural resources and threatened, endangered, or special interest species that are regulated by state or federal law.
- The zoning laws or forest practice regulations in effect in your area.
- The prevailing attitudes of neighbors or the general public.
5. Choose Management Practices and List Them on a Schedule
Prepare an activity schedule, covering at least five to ten years, that lists management practices and the approximate dates when they should occur. If your woodland is large?\perhaps several hundred acres?\activities may occur every year. If it is smaller, management activities may occur less often, perhaps only once every ten years. Regardless of its size, inspect your woodland at least annually. Walk though the woodland and look for damage by pests, fire, or wind, unauthorized harvest, damaged fences, and soil erosion.
6. Keep Good Records
It will be easier to update your woodland stewardship plan and make sound decisions about the future when you keep accurate records of what you have done. Records also will be important when filing income tax returns, selling property, or settling an estate. Management records may include:
- Management plan
- Timber inventory
- Management activities accomplished (what, when, where)
- Sources of forestry assistance (name, address, telephone, e-mail addresses and web sites)
- Association memberships
- Suppliers of materials and equipment
- Insurance policies
- Forestry income and expenses
- Deeds and easements