Information courtesy of New England Forestry Foundation
I. General Questions
Do you replant after a harvest?
As a general rule, NEFF does not replant following a harvest. In New England, the combination of fertile soils and temperate climate provide excellent growing conditions for trees. We work carefully with our foresters to anticipate the set conditions that will be created in the forest after each harvest, which will allow species to regenerate naturally. This work is deliberate, and the decision-making process about how to structure each harvest involves an assessment of local topography, potential patch size and location, water and nutrient availability, and sunlight. With these factors in mind, we can work to arrange a set of desired conditions that will likely lead to the desired outcomes, making replanting an unnecessary step.
Will you clean up all the branches and stumps after you are done? They look messy.
Depending upon the harvest, these items may be chipped during the operation and trucked to plants to provide fuel for electricity or heat. However, in many cases this material is strategically left behind. This slash or coarse woody debris has important ecological functions to reduce soil erosion, provide nutrients back into the soil during decomposition, and provide a refuge for small species of wildlife. It also can protect seedlings from heavy deer browsing. We understand that to some, this material may appear messy or unkempt, but in some instances, it is the most ecologically appropriate strategy for our woodlands.
How do you know how often to harvest your woods or what kind of harvest is appropriate?
We work with our consulting foresters to develop a plan for each forest that incorporates both our goals and the set of conditions present at each property. These management plans differ for each forest, and require an assessment of many factors, including the size and configuration of a property, forest cover type, species composition, basal area, stumpage values, future yields and rates of return. Knowing precisely when to harvest or what type of harvest to implement is a function of these analyses, and something that we decide with our consultants in consideration of both the long-term ecological and economic aspects of the forest.
Do you clearcut your land?
Despite information to the contrary, clearcutting is a valuable tool in forest management. It can help “reset” a woodlot that has been damaged by poor forestry practices in the past, and can provide excellent habitat for a wide variety of early successional species, including but not limited to Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia), Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica), and New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis). Though it is not necessarily a common practice at our forests, we have employed clearcuts when we deemed them appropriate to tackle the ecological issues facing a particular property.
What do you do about vernal pools?
Our foresters and the loggers who contract to do the work follow all applicable Best Management Practices and abide by all species restrictions as required by state and local regulations to minimize impacts to ecological features like vernal pools.
II. For Fellow Landowners
Why should I work with a forester? Can’t I just hire a logger myself?
Most landowners will harvest timber from their woods no more than once every 15 to 20 years – perhaps only once or twice during their lifetime. As a result, they are necessarily less knowledgeable about silviculture, timber volumes, stumpage values, local loggers, state and local regulations, and harvest administration. Consulting foresters bring considerable knowledge and experience to the table when working with landowners, thereby providing their clients with an advantage when it comes to administering and negotiating a timber sale. They also work with landowners on their long-term goals for the land, which allows them to design a sale that provides not only short-term economic and ecological benefits, but with the protection of the long-term health of the woods in mind. Research shows that landowners who use a consulting forester receive more income from their timber sales than those who do not.
How do I find a forester?
The best place to start is by asking neighbors, friends or local organizations that have used foresters on their lands. You can also check with your state to determine which foresters are licensed. If you are interested in who we use on our lands, check Find our Forests and click on a forest near you. Under the description, the consulting forester for each of our forests is noted.
For tips on how to choose a forester, read more here.
What is a management plan? Should I have one?
A management plan includes an assessment of the landowner’s objectives, inventory of the land’s resources, and a strategy to reach those objectives over time. They outline a specific plan of action over time with both short-term and long-term goals in mind. Ideally, these plans should be updated periodically, which provides landowners with an opportunity to reevaluate their goals regularly, and to keep their strategies up-to-date with advances in forestry and ecology.
Though it is not required as part of a harvest, it is highly recommended so that landowners can evaluate their goals fully and implement them strategically over time.
What should I do if someone contacts me about harvesting the trees on my property?
If someone contacts you to propose a harvest on your land, it is possible that it is a legitimate introduction from a local forester or logger. However, all too often people receive the unexpected knock on the door or a letter from someone who is working on a neighbor’s land, will be in the area for another couple of weeks, and would be happy to harvest your land at the same time. You may be courted with ideas of free assistance, the exceptional value of your woods, future markets crashing, the loggers limited availability, and more. They may even draft and present you with a contract, outlining their contact information, a stipulation about the size of the trees to be harvested, and a price. However, if it sounds too good to be true, or if there is any pressure associated with their pitch, we recommend that you do not work with them. In these cases, when landowners receive unsolicited pitches or feel like they must make a hurried decision, the results can be disastrous both for the land and the landowner. A successful harvest can take a bit of time to plan and implement, and landowners should expect to be an active partner in the process. Anyone promising you money for no real effort or decision-making on your part likely would not be someone with whom you can entrust the ecological, economic, and aesthetic value of your woods.