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Writing a forest management plan

Protection against wildfire should be a priority for all woodland owners.

What is a forest management plan?

Think of a forest management plan as a “How to Manual” that guides you toward producing the greatest number of benefits from your property. A plan describes the management activities and indicates when they need to be implemented. The management activities prescribed by a resource professional, in direct consultation with the landowner, will lead to enhancing, conserving, and protecting the natural resources while achieving short- and long-term objectives. Creating a plan provides the opportunity to identify and quantify the natural resources and opportunities available on your property. A comprehensive plan takes into account the management of not only trees, but all aspects of the forest ecosystem including wildlife, water and soil.  A forest management plan is also an educational tool, providing you and your family the opportunity to learn about the natural resources found in your forest.

The complete forest management plan

A complete forest management plan includes four major sections:


Section 1 – Goals and Objectives:

Your goals and objectives should be clearly described in writing.  Goals are general statements that express your long-term (broad) desired outcomes for the property. They are your vision for your property. On the other hand, objectives are more specific statements, and are measurable. They describe the actions required that lead to attaining your goals.

EXAMPLE Goal 1. Protect the health of the forest.

  • Objective 1. Create a prescribed fire plan for entire property.
  • Objective 2. Inspect property for presence of invasive plant species.
  • Objective 3. Inspect property for harmful insect and diseases outbreaks.


Section 2 – Site Description:

This section contains a detailed physical description of your property and available resources. This includes the legal description, tax parcel number, and USDA Service Center number also known as farm number (if available).  In addition to the written legal description, this section should contain maps of various types. At a minimum, a property map (includes the property surveyed plat and an outlined aerial photo) should be included and clearly delineate the property boundary, access points, any waterways, and a physical address or latitude and longitude (often to a main gate). Additional maps include a soils map, stand map (if available), and topographic map.


Section 3 – Prescribed Management Activities:

A plan is comprised of detailed descriptions of prescribed management activities (silviculture) and their timing.  Based on your goals and objectives, these activities may include timber harvests, reforestation, herbicide applications, burning, fertilization, thinning, timber stand improvement, wildlife habitat improvement, pond maintenance, and road/trail construction and maintenance following best management practices to protect water quality.  A healthy forest ecosystem is the result of proactive forest management, and this means there is always something to do.  Therefore, it is imperative you review your forest management plan annually to ensure your objectives are being satisfied.


Section 4 – Protection and Maintenance:

Protection against wildfire should be a priority for all woodland owners.  Installing new fire breaks and maintaining existing breaks should be at the top of the activities listed. All property lines and corners should be properly marked on the ground. A plan should address access and trespass concerns by posting “No Trespassing” signs and secure gates.


A forest fire


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