Input needed: 5 things every woodland owner should know

Update: This story has now been published. Read it here: Five things every Minnesota Woodland Owner Needs to Know.

We’re working on a new story: Five things every woodland owner should know. The new content will be featured in the June email update and be a new featured page on

We need your help building the list!

For this story, you’re the expert. Imagine yourself talking over a cup of coffee with a friend who just bought wooded acreage for the first time. What would you tell her or him and why?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts. We’ll use your responses to build our June story.

Eli ‘s work addresses Minnesota forest ecology & management. He’s based in St Paul.

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  1. To sustain a healthy and viable forest, a landowner must know what forest types and tree species are growing on his property. The landowner must be familiar with the term rotation age and he must recognize that trees do not live forever. Some tree species such as white and red pine can live past 100 years, however other types such as aspen and balsam fir reach maturity in half that time. Many landowners wait too long to get professional forestry assistance; and when they do they are disappointed to learn that their forest should have been harvested several years prior. A forest owner must realize that old, over-mature trees lose their value and may not be useable in the market place.
    It is important for a landowner to have a professional forester develop a plan for the property that describes what the landowner has in the way of forest types. After consultation with the forester, the landowner must decide what tree species or types he wants to manage for. The landowner will learn that he will be restricted to growing only those trees that are adapted to his soil and moisture conditions.
    Knowing what tree types he has and their age and condition; and determining what his options are for reforesting to other tree species, will allow the landowner the ability to sustain a diverse and healthy forest.

  2. Every woodland owner should have the opportunity to learn and understand the multiple objectives of what owning land can do for them. Knowing about the benefits for wildlife, soils, water, air and timber production will likely peak an interest level enough to want to do some active management.

  3. 1. Get a Stewardship plan
    2. Retain basic records on all your management activities,
    almost forever.
    3.Consider the effects of increased drought, higher winds, and
    climate change in your future selections and management.
    4. Look to carbon credit sales as a component of forest income.
    5. Notice that we are planting under increasingly
    adverse conditions for seedling survival….drought, deer,
    pest and disease spikes.. and consider managing fewer
    seedlings more intensively.

  4. Landowners should know that they have options and that there are people working locally – public and private foresters, land trusts, woodland owner groups – to help them learn their options for the management and conservation of their land.

    Landowners should also know that perhaps their best source of information is themselves! Talking to friends and neighbors who have faced similar decisions and have experience with forest management and land conservation can provide great insight about what to consider and who to work with.

  5. Every tree in the woodlot is there for a reason. Understanding the purpose of any given tree will provide a better understanding of the whole woodlot. When managing a woodlot always ask the question, “What will happen if that tree was removed”?

  6. As an owner of 540 acres of mixed woodland and abandoned farm fields I recommend the Stewardship plan as the first step in planning for your development whether it be for economic gain or for receational purposes. Our land is located in northwest minnesota near the edge of the existing woodland and consequently state resources are not plentyfull nearby. I would recommend that educational programs be conducted in more regions than in just the heavily forrested regions of the state. My tree planting experience has been more trial and error the errors have greatly exceeded the possitive results.

  7. 1. Jot down the reasons you bought the land, the opportunities you envision of it and the dreams associated with it. Is there excitement here?
    2. Walk the land and jot down characteristics of the land, flora and fauna, water resources and interesting “things”. What did you purchase?
    3. Map the land with Internet/DNR resources. Determine soil types, water and temperature data, ecology native to the area. Getting educated?
    4. Obtain a Stewardship plan and if feasible work with a forester in pulling it all together. Comfortable with the master plan?
    5. Do a spread sheet re costs and revenues over a time period. Seek out state/county “subsidies” for forest lands. Is your land and plan fiscally supportable?
    5a. Repeat necessary parts (#3 -#5) periodically.

  8. 1. Learn what kind of thinning and pruning is recommended for the type of woods you have and then start doing this and keep at it as the years go by. I remember this quote “Anything you do to improve your woods, even if it is wrong, will probably be better than doing nothing.”
    2. Work with a competent forester if you ever do a timber sale.
    3. Learn about the probable and possible effects of climate change on wood lands. I recently attended an excellent lecture on this subject by Lee Frelich.