FOREST STEWARDSHIP PLANS: WHAT AND WHY?
What is a forest stewardship plan?
A forest stewardship plan guides implementation of a land management program to improve and protect forest and other natural resources and wildlife habitat, and enhance your ability to derive greater benefits from the land during your stewardship tenure. Some tax benefits and cost-share incentive programs require a Forest Stewardship Plan to ensure the landowner’s commitment to conservation practices in return for financial benefits.
A Stewardship Plan should:
- be designed to achieve the specific landowner’s objectives
- provide an inventory of tree species composition, age, merchantability, growth rate, and wildlife habitat conditions
- consider multiple uses of the total forest resource.
- provide options for developing wildlife habitat, aesthetics, and recreation opportunities accomplished in harmony with timber production
- recommend methods of protecting water quality and sensitive natural areas during logging activities
- include a map showing location of the various forest types, land uses and natural features such as drainage
- include reference information on resource management
Proper land stewardship is the focus of the Forest Stewardship Plan. To maximize the benefits of forest ownership, a Stewardship Plan should be established prior to timber harvesting.
What are the typical contents?
A forest stewardship plan typically contains information about the landowner, a legal and general description of the site, the number of acres, landowner goals for management of the property, a map(s), known threatened or endangered species, and soil information. It will also identify forest stands by cover type and acreage, describe dominant vegetation, stand characteristics based on a field inventory, stand health, site quality, timber quality and growth rate, fish and wildlife habitat and uses, water quality issues, timber production potential, recreational opportunities, hazardous fuels, aesthetics, wetlands, and cultural heritage resources. Finally, it contains a set of recommendations on actions to be taken by the landowner to protect soil, water, timber resources, fish/wildlife resources and aesthetic quality in a manner compatible with landowner objectives, along with an implementation schedule.
Can I see a sample?
An example of a plan developed by Natural Resource Consultants for the Hodgin property in Stafford Springs is available for download. Free Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to open this PDF document. If you don’t have Adobe Acrobat on your computer, you can download it: Open copy of Sample Forest Stewardship Plan
For more information:
- A Landowner’s Perspective – article on forest stewardship plans (D Hodgin)
- Forest Stewardship Planning – Managing for Diversity and Beauty (NC State University)
- Another sample forest stewardship plan (Virginia Dept. of Forestry)
- Musings on a Forest Management Plan