What is a Consulting Forester and Why Should I Use One

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So you want to sell some timber from your land.  Where do you start?  The first thing to do is think about what your goals are in having a timber sale.  Most people sell timber when they suddenly need money for something.  This is a sad situation as there is very little active timber management on private land, but the reality is that most folks don’t think about a timber sale until they need money or a logger knocks on the door asking to buy some trees.

Alright, so your goal may be to raise money, salvage trees that are dying from insect or weather damage, improve wildlife habitat, or a combination of goals.

This is what you need to convey to your forester.  In my early days of consulting, I always went about a timber sale as if it were my land and I wanted to take good care of it.  But, some landowners aren’t interested or feign interest in doing good management and taking care of the aesthetics of their property.  They want to maximize the income, no matter what.  If that is your only goal, tell me.  That’s one way to harvest and sell timber.  Another way is to do TSI or timber stand improvement, where I will take only those trees that are not going to amount to anything in terms of timber value or wildlife benefit.  This should be done no matter what kind of harvest we do.  The benefit to having a private forester working for you is to help you decide how best to conduct your harvest according to the goals you have for your property.  Another benefit is that your forester will represent you in the sale and make sure you don’t get ripped off.  Take a look at what happened to the guy in the video below.  I recently gave a landowner $1,000 each for some very nice walnut trees.  Why would you let the first guy who offers you some money for your trees come on your property without you being there and do whatever he wants?  I sometimes offer a landowner a fair price for his timber and collect my commission from the sawmill, but I only do this for reputable mills that pay top dollar and do a good job of logging and, most importantly, can write you a check up front.

There are several techniques used in timber harvesting: shelterwood, clearcut, TSI, Crop Tree Select.  Most mills or loggers will tell you that they will do a “select cut” which is a widely misused term.  What they usually mean is they will “select” every tree that has any monetary  value and take it, leaving you with a carcass devoid of any present or future timber value.  Most harvests are done this way, which is why it is getting increasingly difficult to find good timber on private land.

If you would like more details on the different types of harvesting, give me a call and I will be glad to discuss it with you.  Meanwhile, take a look at the videos I attached here.  The first two are short while the last one is by Smallidge, a forestry extention guy from Cornell who is very knowledgeable.  you may want to crack open a beer or make a pot of coffee for this one.  Enjoy!


About the Author:

Wildlife habitat manager and consulting forester from Central PA. Studied environmental Agriculture specializing in wildlife management and Forestry. B.S. Agriculture, Masters degree in Forestry. 30 years experience in land investment, forestry and wildlife habitat improvement. Currently working as a Farm Bill Forester for Pheasants Forever on Game Commission and Golden Winged Warbler Initiative.

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