Trusting Us With The Future Of Your Forest
Sun, November 13, 2022
Taylor Richmond, MS
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines stewardship as:
1): the office, duties, and obligations of a steward
2): the conducting, supervising, or managing of something
especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care
Here at Resilient Forestry, we are lucky enough to not only be able to interact with large landowners like the Forest Service and Department of Natural Resources, but also with smaller clients, like private landowners. These small landowners are mostly regular people, like you and me, that just want to have their own little patch of forest. These clients are some of my personal favorites to work with because a lot of them buy their land to connect with nature and escape the daily grind. They develop a deep connection with their land and want to make sure it is taken care of now and for the foreseeable future. That is why they entrust us to develop a Forest Stewardship Plan for their forested land.
A Forest Stewardship Plan is a document that helps landowners to protect, maintain, and/or enhance their forest resources, while also meeting their specific objectives for the land. These objectives vary and can range from creating recreational trails, to having more wildlife visit their property. These plans are unique to each property and act as a roadmap for the landowners, teaching them about the unique qualities of their land, the potential for improvement, and how to meet their own goals.
This process first starts with a discussion with the landowner about their land, what they like about it, what they don’t, what they imagine the future of their forest looking like and pinpointing any other objectives they have. We then survey the land by measuring the trees, recording all native and nonnative species on the property, and looking for unique features such as trails, glades, or wildlife trees. This process usually takes a day, depending on the size of the property. We then use this information and other researcher to create an in-depth document that covers everything about the area from the trees to the soil, to wildlife and aesthetics. We describe the forest as it is now, and how it could be in the future. We also give recommendations on management techniques to get the forest where they want it to be.
This past summer, I was lucky enough to work on two of these stewardship plans out on Vashon Island, WA. It just so happens that these two landowners were neighbors, and the parcels they lived on were once one large parcel before being split in the early 2000’s. With their properties being so similar, it was really the landowner objectives that shaped the differences in their stewardship plans. Landowner 1 had some wonderful trails running through their property. This “poop loop” was an important feature on their land that they used to walk their dog every morning. To them, a big objective for their land was to maintain these trails, and to keep the property aesthetically pleasing. This made the stewardship plan more focused on invasive species removal and making sure that there would be a productive new generation of trees that would one day replace the older trees.
Landowner 2’s property was closer to the road, and closer to their neighbors’ properties. Their big focus was to maintain and enhance their privacy. Therefore, their management plan included site preparation and planting of native tree species because they did not want to wait for natural regeneration like their neighbor. Their objective was more pressing and required a quicker approach. This is why Forest Stewardship Plans are so interesting and unique, they incorporate not only attributes of the land, but also the future the landowners envision for their land.
As it says in the definition above, these landowners are entrusting us with the development of this document and a plan for the future of their land. That is what makes this work so great! To be able to merge the science of forest stewardship with varying landowner objectives, teaching landowners about their properties and protecting forest resources one parcel at a time. We take this responsibility very seriously at Resilient Forestry and hope that you will entrust us with the responsible management of your forested land as well.
“Stewardship.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stewardship. Accessed 10 Nov. 2022.