Elements of a Management Plan
Planning is not a single event, but a series of continuous steps leading to a desired goal. Forest Management Plans are, by necessity, long-term. The plan guides activities for decades, providing continuity through successive generations of owners. The plan can be as detailed (short-term recommendations) or as general (long-term recommendations) as you desire. The first step is to determine your priorities, set goals and identify the management activities to reach those goals.
Forest resource management plans traditionally follow a common format. They should be written and revisited periodically to update or change according to your wishes. The assistance of professional foresters, wildlife biologists, soil and water specialists, recreation specialists and others are recommended as you develop your plan.
Statement of landowner goals and objectives
A well-written plan should begin with a statement of the landowner's goals for ownership. Long-term (more than 10-year) goals are usually general. Short-term goals are more targeted, with specific practices and timetables. These include: timber stand improvement activities, stand thinning schedules, timber harvests, site preparation timetables and re-growth or re-planting (regeneration) methods and timings.
Your plan should have a large enough map and/or aerial photograph showing the location of the property and how the property can be accessed. Boundaries should be clearly marked and described.
Protection and maintenance
Include a description of your activities (or planned activities) relative to the following key protection and maintenance requirements:
- Marking and maintaining property lines and corners
- Road, trail and access control
- Fire protection practices
- Insect and disease inspection, protection and salvage
- Timetable for review and update of the management plan
Stand descriptions and inventory data
Each stand should be described and correctly marked on the property map and/ or the aerial photograph. Soil types, number of acres, tree species, stand age, stocking (trees per acre), range of tree diameters, average tree height, standing timber volume, tree condition and health, and unique water quality or drainage Contact your natural resources professional for more specific assistance 11 information are essential. For owners with wildlife, recreation, aesthetic or other objectives, a description of the stand's importance to other plant species and to wildlife should also be included.
Forest management prescribed activities
The "real meat' 'of a forest management plan is applying your objectives and goals to the actual forest stands you own and then creating a timetable of planned activities. These scheduled/prescribed activities can be included in the previous, "Stand Description and Inventory Data," section, or can be in a separate section linked to each timber stand. Prescribed activities include:
- Timber harvests
- Re-growth or re-planting (regeneration) practices: site preparation, tree planting, natural regeneration recommendations
- Forest fertilization
- Commercial timber thinning
- Pre-commercial thinning
- Weeding and/or timber stand improvement practices
- Establishing and maintaining wildlife management practices
- Installing and maintaining water quality protection practices (BMPs)
- Enhancing the stand's aesthetics, recreational use, diversity of plants and wildlife species and appeal to wildlife.
- Other: requirements to comply with federal/state regulations such as the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, state water quality laws, etc.
You may wish to develop your own plan or seek the assistance of a professional forester. Regardless of who prepares the plan, several key points apply to all plans:
- No plan is set in stone and can be modified at any time. The plan you develop is an operating plan which, based on current conditions and facts will help you in meeting your objectives.
- Plans are unique to each owner and forest.
- Plans should be reviewed and updated at least every 5 years or as conditions change or the objectives of the owner(s) change. All owners and heirs, if possible, should be included in developing and modifying a long- or short-term plan to insure continuity of forest resource management activities.