Call Before You Cut
Once you have a vision of what benefits you would like from your woodlands, you can choose from a variety of management activities that will help you achieve your goals. The good news is that many objectives overlap. A healthy forest provides excellent habitat for animals, is aesthetically pleasing and will produce good wood for heating or wood products.
The next step is assessing what you have in your woodlot. A forester can conduct an overall inventory of your woods to determine the kind and number of trees present, as well as their distribution, health and age. The forester also will identify areas that need special attention, such as bare stream banks or a lack of wildlife habitat.
Once you have determined the goals for your woods and the forester has conducted an inventory, it’s time to make a plan. A forest management plan prepared by a professional forester describes the current condition of your woodlands and the trees growing there. It also integrates your objectives with the resources present, spells out activities that will help achieve your goals for your land and can guide you should you decide to harvest some of the timber on your property.
A forester will mark and tally the trees that are to be removed during the sale. This log count will allow the forester to develop an estimate of the value of your timber based on current market conditions. The pre-harvest inventory is essential. You know the value of your home, vehicle, livestock and crops. Do you know the value of the trees in your woods? Most people don’t.
You can then solicit loggers for bids on the trees you want to sell. The bid process is an amazing thing. There are usually wide differences among bids, and the high bid is often as much as double the low bid. Taking the first offer, no matter how much money it sounds like, is usually not the best idea. It just makes good business sense to advertise the timber sale and get several written bids. This can mean more money in your pocket.
A common method of timber harvesting in Missouri is high-grading. This is unfortunate because this practice removes all the good trees from the woods in one harvest, leaving only those that are in poor condition. Those remaining trees grow slowly and limit the landowner’s options for decades. High-grading might lead to more immediate financial gain,