In Maine, family forests develop more slowly than the pine forests of the South or the Douglas fir forests of the West. Because of the long growing rotation, many landowners may only harvest timber once in a lifetime. That means that if you’re going to harvest your property, you want to get it right. But what does that mean? That depends on what your objectives are.
People own family forestland for a variety of reasons, but often don’t take time to outline any specific objectives for their land. Before you consider harvesting your woods, take a minute to consider what you value about your land and how you want to manage it to meet or increase those values. Often the revenue generated from a timber harvest is only a secondary consideration. In fact, for many landowners, timber production is somewhere near the bottom of their reasons for owning land. A survey by the Maine Forest Service found that Beauty/Scenery, Privacy, Nature/Biodiversity, and Recreation and Hunting all ranked as more significant reasons for owning land than timber production.
Despite all of those other values being higher priorities, a lot of landowners do harvest timber. That’s because a well-planned timber harvest can often help sustain or improve the other goals you have for your property and generate revenue along the way.
Whether you’d like to have walking trails cleared on your property, gaps and clearings of new forest for song and game birds, browse and cover for whitetail deer, an aesthetically pleasing stand of timber, a scenic view, a periodic source of income, or a stand of timber which is growing to its ecological and economic maximum, a well planned and well timed timber harvest can help you meet your objectives.
The key to a successful harvest is knowing your objectives. If you know what you want from your family forest, a professional forester can assist you in developing a family forest management plan to achieve your objectives. A forester works for you, the landowner, and can walk you through the various values of your woodlot, evaluate your goals and objectives and make recommendations for activities and practices to move toward your goals or improve your enjoyment of your land.
Once you’ve decided what you’d like to do with your land, a forester can work with you to contract timber stand improvement and logging contractors to implement the practices that best meet your objectives, all while making sure your investment in your family forestland provides the best possible results.
When you decide it’s time to harvest timber from your lot make sure you know what you’d like for a result. Hire a professional forester to work to counsel you and represent you throughout the process and be sure you’re getting the best deal possible and the results you are looking for so that you can enjoy the benefits of your land for years to come.