Woodlands can be managed for a variety of objectives, from timber production to a bird sanctuary; many times these diverse uses can be combined on the same property. Owners determine their own objectives for the land and their decisions are as dependent on economics or personal preferences as on the biologically productive capacity of the land. Woodland owners are encouraged to work with a professional forester in the care and management of their woodland and an important part of that relationship is the creation and implementation of a woodland management plan. Typically professional foresters write these plans after evaluating the current condition and potential of the woodland in relation to the owner’s goals and objectives.
If you have ever started out on a trip but did not know exactly how to get to your destination you quickly realized that you would need a map and directions. A woodland management plan is the road map and directions for your woodland. A woodland management plan provides you the following benefits:
- A better understanding of what you have and capabilities of the land.
- Connects woodland owners to technical assistance through working with forestry, wildlife, and other natural resources professionals.
- Written woodland management plans are required to participate in many programs including government financial incentive programs related to woodland management.
- All woodland certification programs require a woodland management plan.
- Woodland management plans provides a “road map and reference” to facilitate the production of multiple benefits from the woodlands.
The written woodland management plan is an important document that provides a variety of attributes to help woodland owners care for and manage their woodlands. The plan will include the landowner’s goals and objectives, a map of the woodland with the various areas (stands) identified, a description of each area (derived from the inventory), an assessment of threats and opportunities, the action steps required to meet the landowner’s goals and objectives, and other information or references related to the plan.
Identifying the woodland management goals and objectives is a critical element of all management plans. At first, the goals and objectives may not be well formed or articulated. This is especially true if the property was just acquired or the owner has little knowledge of the number and condition of trees, plants, and animals present. By working with a forester or other natural resource professional an inventory of the property can be accomplished to better inform the owner of the current and potential of the woodland as well as identify issues that may need to be addressed such as invasive plants or trespass problems.
A good understanding of the answers to the following questions will help in the development of your goals and objectives for your woodland. A forester will also consider many of these questions during the inventory and plan development process.
- Are you interested in producing income from your property?
- Are you interested in wildlife viewing and/or hunting? What signs of wildlife are there in the woodland? Do they have aesthetic or recreational value (hunting/fishing/bird watching)?
- Are you interested in recreational opportunities on the land?
- Are there valuable trees now growing on the land? Are the tree species now on the land suited to the soils? How fast are the trees growing?
- How is the access around the property? Are there roads or firebreaks? What shape are they in?
- Are there problems with invasive plants or other things that can hinder management activities?
- Are there any wetlands, streams, water bodies, or other special areas that need special protection?
- What do you expect this woodland to produce? Are the expectations realistic? What can you contribute to the management of the property?
10 Steps to Developing and Implementing a Woodland Management Plan
- Identify Management Goals and Objectives
- Conduct Woodland Inventory
- Revisit and Modify Objectives (if necessary)
- Record Objectives and Descriptive Information by Area
- Designate Management Areas
- Select Improvement Practices and Schedule of Activities by Area
- Implement Management Practices
- Record Keeping and Evaluation of Practices
- Refine Management Practices and Goals/Objectives as Needed
- Enjoy your woodlands!
Kentucky Division of Forestry
Kentucky Division of Forestry employs service foresters that can help woodland owners develop a management plan.
Click here to learn how.
Kentucky Association of Consulting Foresters
Consulting foresters with the Kentucky Association of Consulting Foresters can assist woodland owners in developing a plan and selling their timber.
Click here to learn more.
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Forestry technical service providers approved by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and private consulting foresters can develop woodland management plans.
Click here for more information.
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife
Private land biologists from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources are also a great resource if wildlife is one of your objectives.
Click here to learn more.
Kentucky Woodlands Magazine Articles
Web Soil Survey - Online Tool to Assist in the Development of Your Woodland Management Plan