Our harvesting process begins by working with our consulting foresters to develop a management plan, which outlines our goals for each forest. In developing each plan, we strategize how we can best achieve our goals with multiple users and purposes in mind, including wildlife habitat management, water resources, recreation, cultural resources, and local economies. These plans are updated approximately every 10 to 15 years, which provides us an opportunity to reevaluate our goals regularly, and to keep up with advances in forestry and ecology.
To conduct each harvest, we collaborate with local consulting foresters, who are professionals trained in forestry and licensed by the state. They represent our best interests as landowners, and develop our management plans, work with us to plan activities, and oversee the details of each harvest.
Depending upon our goals, harvests are conducted on each property every 10 to 20 years. For each harvest, our Director of Forest Stewardship collaborates with the appropriate consulting forester on the goals, strategy, and timing of the harvest. In some states, an Intent to Cut must be posted at the harvest. In other states, such as Massachusetts, a Forest Cutting Plan must be submitted to and approved by the state prior to the start of any work. Once these details are in place, our forester can complete the details of the harvest and identify a logger to do the work.
Our foresters individually mark each tree to be harvested, or they may outline an area to be harvested if multiple smaller trees are to be taken. Typically, they make these determinations by gauging the location, health, size, and anticipated longevity of each tree they evaluate. There are more complex factors that must be considered, but generally speaking, those factors help determine which trees are best candidates for removal. In addition, they also mark the landing, anticipated skid trails (i.e., trails that the machinery will use for removal of trees), and any potential wetland or stream crossings that will occur on the site. If any permitting is required, they also handle those details to be sure that the sale is fully operational.
Once trees are marked and the loggers are hired, the loggers are tasked with removing only the trees that the forester has identified. The decisions as to which trees to remove are not made indiscriminately, and they are not at the discretion of the loggers. It is the responsibility of the forester to check in on the sale regularly to be sure that it is implemented to his or her satisfaction. If there are any issues, our forester works to resolve them to be sure that everything is held to the highest standard.
Working with Consulting Foresters
Although New England Forestry Foundation staff is composed of professionals in forestry and ecology, we still work almost exclusively with consulting foresters to conduct our harvests. We believe that working with these professionals produces the best results both ecologically and economically, and it removes the burden on staff to administer each sale. They provide additional services as well, including management planning, timber cruising, recreation planning, mapping, and much more.
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 each sale so that it provides not only short-term economic and ecological benefits, but also protection of the long-term health and investment of the woods.
We highly recommend that landowners considering a harvest contact a local consulting forester to provide professional advice. If you need help learning how to choose a forester, or how you can benefit, please read more here.