March 6, 2009

Kentucky woodland owners are feeling the pinch from this tough economy just like many others, but owners who are actively involved in a sound woodland management plan are seeing continued growth rates in their investments in trees during these turbulent times.

Nature doesn't pay much attention to Wall Street, so trees continue to grow in diameter and height, no matter what the Dow Jones Industrial Average is. However, optimum growth rate often is the result of woodland owners working closely with their "woodlands financial advisor," a professional forester who helps to identify ways to increase woodland values.

According to Doug McLaren, forestry specialist in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, many of the more than 400,000 Kentucky woodland owners invest little or no time in developing a forest plan to increase each timber stand's maximum growth. A professional forester can develop a forest stewardship plan that will incorporate both the landowner's objectives and the unique potentials that are characteristic to that particular stand.

"A managed timber stand not only supplies trees for the manufacture of a variety of products, but it can also provide clean water resources, abundant wildlife habitat opportunities or simply an enjoyable place to relax," he said. "The goal of the forester is to develop a management plan that will meet the goals of the landowner and provide an area for multiple use opportunities."

Developed by a forester and carried out by the landowner, a realistic, achievable and measurable woodland management plan ultimately is a sound financial portfolio for the future, no matter the state of the economy. Not only will woodland owners increase the value of their stands, said McLaren, but they will experience a sense of stewardship of the land for future generations.

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