What is a forest management plan?
A management plan is a long-term (5-25 year) strategy that can help map out how you will achieve goals for your woodlands. This may be a plan for your entire forest or for just one activity (such as a tree planting plan). A management plan will help you avoid costly mistakes by matching your goals with what is feasible in your woodland, prioritizing them, and identifying the activities necessary to meet those goals in the most efficient, sustainable manner. Management plans also have other benefits:
— It guides future activities you undertake to achieve your goals
— It can serve as a reference for you and your heirs when deciding on future directions
— It can be changed in the future if your woodland goals change
— It meets obligations under the state tax programs (MFL).
Clarifying your goals and objectives
If you haven’t thought about what you want from your land, here is a list of questions to ask that can help clarify your goals and objectives:
Would you like …
… more wildlife? What type of wildlife?
… your woodlands to be healthier and more attractive?
… to increase the potential sale value of your land?
… to improve the recreational opportunities on your land? What forms of recreation?
… to create a more valuable asset for your family or heirs?
… better quality trees?
… more income?
Once you have answered these questions, with the help of a forester you can begin to develop a management plan to meet these goals. Professional foresters provide the guidance you will need to understand how your forest can be improved to achieve the goals you have identified.
What is in a management plan?
The details contained in a management plan can vary depending on the type of plan you are looking for. A simple planting plan may just outline where and how trees will be planted, and how they will be maintained. A wildlife plan will identify wildlife goals, and outline activities to enhance wildlife habitat. A stewardship plan will be more detailed to address your overall woodland goals. Management plans written for the Managed Forest Law program are stewardship plans, and are more detailed to achieve the requirements for enrollment in the program. In general, every plan will include this basic information:
- Property Ownership: who owns the property, and for whom the plan was written
- Property Description: where the property is located, the number of acres, and other relevant information
- Landowner Goals: The plan may list all the property goals or just those goals addressed in the plan.
- Stand Information: Often the woodlot is divided in to different stands (groups of similar types and sizes of trees). This allows for a woodlot to be managed for and achieve a variety of goals. This section of the plant will include a description, list of objectives, and a timeline of recommended activities for each stand identified in the overall plan.
- Other Recommendations (forest health, endangered resources, & cultural notes): If there are other importnat resources or issues that need to be addressed, this section will include those recommendations. Examples may include the presence of invasive species, insects, diseases, old building foundations, or potential threatened and endangered species habitat.
- Maps: A variety of maps may be attached to the plan from aerial photos to sketches of the property with the stands identified.
Even if you plan to do nothing with your woods, getting a baseline assessment of the current conditions is important to gain an understanding of the resource you own. The expression of your goals is a great way to ensure you get the most out of your forest. Also, you may discover that as your forest naturally changes over time it will no longer meet your goals. The process of talking with a forester about your property and potentially developing a plan will ensure that the decisions you make are based on sound science.
You can find more information on how to get started with a management plan in these two publications:
Caring For Your Woods
Getting the Most From Your Woodland
Related Archived Webinars
Assistance with your woodlands
Success takes planning
Related Blog Posts
Planning section of our publications