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Get Started Managing Your Woodlands

Managing your woodland can be simple or complex, depending on what you want to accomplish.

Creating Your Management Plan

The process can be broken down into several manageable steps.

1. Determine What You Want Your Woodlands to Provide

This first step defines what aspects of your woodland are important to you, and it should also be done periodically as wants and needs change. What is most important: wildlife, recreation, timber, woodland streams? It can also get very specific; for example what type of wildlife interests you most: wildlife associated with a very young forest or that associated with a more mature forested condition? State Service Foresters, Professional Consulting Foresters and Industry Foresters can provide this service.

2. Assess the Woodland’s Condition

Knowing what you want your woodlands to provide will determine what characteristics your forest needs. The woodland’s condition can then be measured against these characteristics. An inventory of all the trees (called a cruise) will help determine what course of action will be needed. State Service Foresters, Consulting Forest Technicians, Professional Consulting Foresters and Industry Foresters can provide this service.

3. Develop a Management Plan

The management plan is a description of the owner's management objectives, the woodland's current condition, and a set of prescribed activities that will help the woodland better meet the owner's management objectives. Professional Consulting Forester and Industry Foresters can provide this service.

4. Implement the Plan

Depending on the nature of the existing woodland and the activities required to make the woodland into what the landowner wants may require a wide range of activities. Even maintaining woodland in its current condition will require some activities.

5. Assess the Plan Periodically 

Forests are constantly changing through natural and introduced processes. It is important that periodic assessments of its condition be performed to assure the health and maximum potential for meeting the woodland owner's needs.

How to Accomplish Your Plan

There are a number tools that may be suggested in a management plan.

Tree Planting

To expand existing forest or establish a forest. Service Foresters, Consulting Forestry Technicians and Professional Consulting Foresters can help set these practices up. Forestry Service Providers also carry out practices set up by Service Foresters or Professional Consulting Foresters.

Stand Improvement

To improve the composition, structure, condition, health and growth of a stand of trees. Examples are removing grapevines or releasing trees of wildlife value. Service Foresters and Professional Consulting Foresters can help set these activities up. In addition, a Professional Consulting Forester may be able to supervise or actually implement certain activities. Forestry Service Providers also carry out practices set up by Service Foresters or Professional Consulting Foresters.

Timber Harvest

A harvest is used to achieve many woodland management needs and objectives. This activity can generate revenue if the timber is of sufficient amount and quality. A harvest prescription set up and carried out by a knowledgeable forester will ensure that the harvest meets the needs of the landowner. Marketing the timber and overseeing the proper implementation of the harvest are critical to landowner satisfaction. Service Foresters can develop a harvest prescription and on a limited basis, mark trees to be harvested. A Professional Consulting Forester can do that and market the timber and develop and enforce contracts to ensure proper implementation of the harvest. Industry Foresters can develop a harvest prescription, mark trees to be harvested, buy the logs, and see that the trees are harvested.


This is a way of measuring cost or investment in timber and other assets. It is used to figure amortization for new tree plantings, depletion when the timber is sold or disposed of, the deduction for depreciation and casualty loss. The initial basis, or book value, of timber should be established at the time it is acquired. Whether property is received by purchase, gift or inheritance, its value often includes land, buildings or other assets in addition to timber, and the basis of the timber must be separated from the basis of the other assets. When the timber is sold, gain or loss is determined by comparing the timber’s adjusted basis to its sale price. Professional Consulting Foresters can perform this service for landowners.

Property Tax Reduction Programs

Forest land that is managed for forest products may be eligible for one of Ohio’s tax reduction programs: Ohio Forest Tax Law or Current Agricultural Use Value. Service Foresters can assist in getting you started toward enrolling your land in one of these programs.

Other Practices

Structures or practices such as wildlife habitat improvements may be necessary to meet a woodland owner’s management objectives. Service Foresters, Consulting Forestry Technicians and Professional Consulting Foresters offer this service.

Cost-Share Assistance

Various government programs may exist to help implement certain woodland practices by sharing the cost of implementation with the woodland owner. For example, the government may have funds available to cover half of the cost of planting trees under certain circumstances. Service Foresters have the responsibility for approving landowners for available cost-share assistance.