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Effective Woodlot Management (part 1)

Pennsylvania’s Forests Growing at a Rapid Rate: by Jeffrey S Nichols

            The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has nearly 17 million acres of forest land.  Two thirds of the forest land in Pennsylvania is owned by non-industrial private landowners/individuals and families.


            Pennsylvania is the nation’s number one producer of hardwood lumber, accounting for about 10 percent of the total hardwood lumber output in the United States.  Thus, the forest products industry is an essential element of the Pennsylvania economy.  Trees to make our wood and paper products are a renewable resource. In Pennsylvania our forests are growing at a rate more than twice the rate of harvest.  We currently have more saw timber volume (large, quality trees that are manufactured into lumber) in our forests now than 50 years ago.


            Northeastern Pennsylvania is the home of a robust forest economy where a wide range of hardwood trees thrive and grow.


            The forests of this nation have been providing significant economic, consumer, environmental and aesthetic benefits for centuries.  In the interest of assuring the long term health and productivity of these forests for future generations, we must have a comprehensive plan to be used as a means of managing our renewable resource.  As a result, the practice of sustainable forestry became a key initiative in providing direction for foresters and forest landowners in implementing forest practices and managing forests.  Sustainable forestry can be defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs by practicing a land stewardship ethic which integrates the reforestation, managing, growing, nurturing and harvesting of trees for useful products with the conservation of soil, air and water quality, wildlife and fish habitat, and aesthetics.”



            “Your woodlot is valuable, manage it wisely.”  This is not only a slogan at Deer Park Lumber, Inc. located in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, it is a philosophy we have followed over the years in managing our own company lands, but also the lands of private landowners as well.  Your woodlot is valuable in so many ways.  Its care and management must be well thought out and timely.  Managing a woodlot can be challenging, however, it is also extremely rewarding.


            Forests provide us with so many benefits:  clean air, quality water, wood products, wildlife habitat (food and cover), abundant outdoor recreational opportunities and spiritual renewal just to name a few.



The forest ecosystem, of which your woodlot is a part of, is extremely diverse and complex.  As a forester, I could practice the art and science of forestry for many lifetimes and still be learning more and managing the resource better.  Time takes time – growing and managing the resource takes time, effort, knowledge and flexibility to meet the changes which take place within the forest over time.


            As a professional forester, I serve as a guide to the forest landowner and the timber harvester.  Ultimately, it is the wants and needs of the landowner that is paramount in what management decisions are considered and what practices are adopted to manage a woodlot and keep it productive.  As a forester, I can give you plenty of sound, practical and scientific knowledge regarding your woodlot, but it is your objectives for ownership and your willingness to take action and follow the forest management plan that will bring you the satisfaction and rewards of ownership.


            For most non-industrial private forest landowners in Pennsylvania, the woodlot came with the property as part of the homestead or hunting property.  Most didn’t purchase the property thinking the wood or timber and its management would also bring financial rewards.  For most landowners we interact with, the wildlife resource and outdoor recreational opportunities are very important objectives for owning the land.  Both of these objectives can be enhanced with proper woodlot management.  Well planned access roads and forest trails provide enjoyment to the owners of forest land.

            In my opinion, every forest landowner needs to have a forest management plan.  It doesn’t have to be super complex, but it needs to be a plan that serves as a guide for the landowner.

Please continue to the next article, part 2, of Woodlot Management to learn about The Forest Management Plan


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