Your Forest Can Be Managed For Long-term Profit While Enjoying Its Beauty and Recreational Value.

Private forest landowners come from all walks of life and are as varied as the reason they own forest property. Some are farmers whose forestland represents family property that was not suitable for farming due to steep slopes and thin soils. Others may own forestland for hunting and recreational values. One common misconception is that this forest property has little or no current value since it does not produce an annual income. 

Forests are unique in that each tree represents both the final product as well as the manufacturing plant. Although they do not provide yearly end products such as corn or grain crops, this does not mean that they are not increasing in value. For example, a red oak tree that is currently 14 inches in diameter at 4.5 feet above the ground (diameter at breast height-DBH) and has 27 feet of clear stem wood, has a value of $37.41. In just 10 years, as this tree grows larger in diameter and gains additional height, it can be worth $101.31, which is equal to an annual return of 10.5%. 

Different tree sizes have value for various forest products ranging from pulpwood (smaller diameter trees) for making paper based products to lumber and veneer for high value furniture. Management of your woodlot can be done to increase its current and potential timber value and this can be accomplished in conjunction with, not instead of, other hunting, recreational and esthetic goals and objectives. It is possible to enjoy economic returns now and in the future while improving wildlife habitat diversity and improving access to your property.

Woodlots in the Appalachian region are quite varied in that they contain trees of many different species with a wide variety of tree sizes. Tree value varies by species and in general, increases in value with increasing stem diameter (DBH) and quality (the amount of the stem in clear, knot free wood). We have included a “Stumpage/Log Value” calculator link to an Excel spreadsheet in order to provide a glimpse of the variability in value between different tree species. Most forest landowners do not recognize the value of their woodlot simply because they lack the knowledge of how to measure and evaluate their timber resource.

This website introduces you to basic forestry concepts and provides linkages to other forestry information sites such as tree species identification and sources of forest management assistance. A newly created worksheet in the “Stumpage/Log Value” calculator Excel spreadsheet is meant to assist you in calculating the volume and value of your woodlot based on a simple tree inventory. This calculator will also provide POSSIBLE rates of return as your forest ages. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The following three lessons will help you generally understand the "architecture" of the forest, how to measure a tree like a forester, and finally how to estimate the value of what is in your woodlot.  Please keep in mind that this brief introduction will not make you an expert.  PLEASE consult an forestry professional before making any commitment to harvest.

Jeffrey J Slahor
Research Instructor
Appalachian Hardwood Center
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Deciding when to harvest your forest to achieve your management goals can be complicated.Not only do you need to consider the rate of return of individual trees, you also need to know how your trees will respond to management in the form of harvesting. As a generalization, “Harvest (cut) the worst trees first” is a good motto. Other things being equal, you want to harvest the trees with the lowest rate of return first (see EXAMPLE). Trees that are worth less money have lower rates of return because they have poor quality stems and/or they are smaller and less healthy than the better quality trees. The “worst” tree will not become better with time so it should be harvested first. Leaving the better quality, larger, healthier trees to grow longer allows them to add volume and value over time. In addition, the healthier trees also serve as a seed source to regenerate the next forest.

Example: You have 2 savings accounts - one earning a 4 % ROR and the other earning a 7% ROR - and you want to withdraw $100.00 dollars. You would take the money out of the account that had the smallest ROR first leaving money in the account that was earning a higher ROR. Similarly with trees, those with the lowest rate of value growth should be harvested first.

Compare and contrast the following five management options and the possible effect they have on dollar value; a thinning, an actual stand with no treatment done, a full harvest (clear cut), and two diameter limit harvests.

An Excell spreadsheet for you to down load and use, with caution.  This is just to give the landowner an idea of the variability as well as potential value of the timber on the land.  Be sure to read and heed the caveats and get a professional forester to look you land over.  Never except the first offer, especially if it is unbidden.



This section gives specific examples of how trees can generate a positive rate of return--far better than any savings account or CD at the moment.

Examples of how a silvilcultural procedure such as thinning can improve that rate of return are also provided.

Please remember, these examples are a snapshot in time and actual prices go down as well as up, but very rarely stay the same.  So, while a wood lot can viewed as a very solid investment, PLEASE consult a professional forester before committing to anything.

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