Guide For Basic Woodlot Management Plan

 
 
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 Introduction | Woodlot management plans | Basic management woodlot plan | Template in pdf format
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Introduction

Developing a woodlot management plan will help you to achieve the goals that are important to you while considering other values of woodlots. Through the process of developing a woodlot management plan you will understand the feasibility of your goals, get an idea of your woodlot resources and determine management activities that will be carried out. Developing the woodlot management plan will also set priorities, reduce potential land use conflict, and reduce the cost of your time and money for your woodlot venture. Having the woodlot management plan will avoid possible negative environmental impact and provide opportunities for positive benefits for the owners, forest and society. The woodlot management plan could also be a part of your farm business or other business plans as well.

Every landowner has a different level of knowledge about woodlot management as well as different reasons or needs for a woodlot management plan. There is no “standard” woodlot management plan format for Alberta but the matrix shows what are the anticipated requirements for woodlot management plans that could serve different purposes. Some of these requirements are applicable for every format while many are required only for specific purposes. Some requirements will be added or changed in future.

Woodlot Management Plans

Basic/general woodlot management plan
Purpose - to develop a simple woodlot management plan that will outline landowner goals and objectives and a basic description of how to achieve these goals and objectives.

The basic/general template is designed for any owner who does not have a written management plan. It provides a fairly simple way to write sustainable woodlot management plans and includes: legal land location, maps, history, forest stand description and management activities by forest stand.Additional detail can be added to meet the owner’s objectives for the plan.

Municipal tax management plan
Purpose - to qualify a property as a woodlot for the purposes of municipal tax assessment.

This plan needs to demonstrate that the property is being managed for production of primary woodlot products. Besides basic information, other anticipated requirements include: land productivity-macroclimate, list of forest products, business plan, as well as management activities and implementation of its by forest stand. Also, current legal requirements should be incorporated into this plan.

Federal tax management plan
Purpose - to demonstrate that a woodlot is a commercial woodlot or a commercial farm woodlot as defined by Canada Custom and Revenue Agency.

This may allow the owner to qualify for certain income tax benefits such as deduction of woodlot expenses or intergenerational transfer of property. It has almost the same requirements as the Municipal Tax Plan but may require a more detailed business plan or financial records.

Conservation woodlot management plan
Purpose - to develop a woodlot plan for conservation purposes.

This plan is focused on the conservation aspect of a woodlot. It should include the areas of special interest and sensitive areas and any management activities that are contemplated to maintain or improve them. Detailed resource inventories such as watershed, vegetation, wildlife and biodiversity are crucial parts of this plan. If the plan is intended to qualify the property for a formal conservation agreement, it must be signed by relevant authority such as professional biologist or forester.

Woodlot management plan for sustainable forest management
Purpose - to enable a property to be certified for Sustainable Forest Management.

Landowners have to be committed to the principle of Sustainable Forest Management. This means that landowner’s have to maintain or enhance natural productivity, biodiversity etc. and manage for a range of social and economic values to ensure that his/her woodlot doesn’t decrease in productivity, growing stock or produce less than previously. Full details of an SFM management plan suitable for an individual woodlot are not clear but may include additional requirements such as: history of property, sensitive areas or areas of special interest, detailed timber inventory, business and financial plan, other resource inventories, forest health and conditions and detailed management activities by forest stand.

Comprehensive woodlot management plan
Purpose - to develop a comprehensive woodlot plan for any purpose, eg. Business, municipal and federal tax enrollment as well as SFM and conservation needs.

A comprehensive plan implies more detailed information about biological or physical attributes of the woodlot; business or financial details and/or management activities.

Table 1. Minimum requirements for different Woodlot Management Plans

Requirements
Basic/
General
Municipal Tax
Federal
Tax
Conservation
SFM
Comprehensive
Owner(s) and contact information
X
X
X
X
X
X
Owner Goals
X
X
X
X
X
X
Legal land description
X
X
X
X
X
X
Sketch map or air photo
X
X
X
X
X
X
Stand description
X
X
X
X
X
X
Management activities by stand
X
X
X
X
X
X
History of property
X
.
.
X
X
X
List of forest products
.
X
X
.
X
X
Implementation
.
X
X
.
X
X
Timber inventory
.
.
.
.
X
X
Business plan
.
X
X
.
.
X
Commitment to SFM
. .
..
. .
..
X
X
Other resource inventories
. .
. .
. .
X
X
X
Tax roll and administration
. .
X
X
. .
. .
X
Financial plan
.
.
X
.
.
X
Detailed management activities
.
.
.
.
X
X
Sensitive areas or areas of special interest
.
.
.
X
X
X
Macroclimate
.
X
.
.
.
X
Legal requirements
.
X
X
.
X
X
Third party agreements
.
.
.
X
.
.
Ecosite information
.
.
.
.
.
X
Authority sign off
.
.
.
X
X
X
Soil information
.
.
.
.
.
X
Disclaimer: These requirements are based on the author’s current and best knowledge, to serve as information for woodlot owners. These requirements do NOT imply endorsement by Alberta Agriculture and Food, Municipal Affairs, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency or any conservation groups or anybody else nor are these organizations responsible for any incorrect information

Basic/General Woodlot Plan Template

Legal land description and location
Enter your name(s) and address as well as legal locations for each quarter(s) that you own and will manage. Enter the total amount of acres (ha) that is covered by trees, water (wetlands, slough, creeks, etc), field and other land-use. The surrounding area may also have an effect on your property. You might include brief description of the surrounding area in your plan.

Goals and objectives
This is first step woodlot management. It is important to establish and know your goals. Goals should reflect your personal/family, economic and environmental needs. The goals and objectives should be clear, realistic and achievable. When you set up goals you must also consider constrains or limitations. For example: limited time, money and equipment are your personal and economic constrains. Type of forest, insect and disease, soil productivity and others are biological constrains. Assessing your priorities will help you establish short and long-term goals.

Some common landowner goals are: wildlife habitat protection, recreation and eco-tourism, soil and water conservation, complement to agriculture crop (tree farming and plantations), timber production, special forest production (berries, mushrooms, willows for wreaths, etc.), forage production and future generation investment.

History
The summary of the historical changes of your woodlot can be very helpful in assessing the potential of the woodlot to meet your needs as well as needs of the future generations. Please write the brief description of past activities that are relevant to the management plan. This may include: when land was homesteaded, any harvesting, grazing, tree planting, land clearing, fire, thinning, insect and disease infestation and other activities in the past. If it is possible to record the year that these activities occurred you might have a basis for judging their effect over time and what further action maybe appropriate.

Maps
Maps are an important part of the management plan. They provide a link between woodlot information and management activities that will be carried out. They also provide historical reference to the area over the years.
Using air-photos, develop the map(s) of your property which should include following:

  • Property boundaries
  • Physical features such as lakes, creeks, wetlands, fields, fences, power lines, house, roads, trails and other features
  • Forest features such as forest compartment numbers, forest types, tree species composition and others
Picture 1. Detailed woodlot map using air photos as background

Source by: Toso Bozic – AF

Forest stand description
Woodlot stand description is the first step before making any management decisions. It provides you necessary information with allows you to make decisions and decide which management activities are appropriate. Vegetation inventory collects a wide range of information including: trees species composition/forest type, age, tree density, understory vegetation (shrub and plants) and other vegetation characteristics of woodlots.
  • Tree species- list most common trees species(e.g. aspen, balsam poplar, birch, white spruce, black spruce, Jack Pine, Lodgepole pine, and tamarack) and what type of forest they formed ( pure or mixedwood forest)
  • Age-find out the age of trees in compartment. This can be simple done by cutting one tree and counting the rings on stump or use increment borer. Two or three samples per compartment are enough to find the age of trees. Tree within 10 years of age are classified as even aged forest. If trees in compartment have various ages (difference more than 10 year) the forest in classified as un-even aged forest.
  • Average Height- record the average height of trees in your compartment. This means estimating the height of trees that form main canopy or upper level of the forest floor
  • Average Diameter at breast height- DBH estimate the average DBH of the trees in stand. It’s also useful to provide a range of diameters that comprise the average.
Management activities
To achieve your goals and objectives appropriate management activities are required. These activities will depend of the nature of forest and your goals and objectives. Some of your management activities may include:

Forest harvesting -Harvesting is just a tool to improve forest condition. Proper timber harvesting removes timber efficiently while protecting site productivity, minimizing impacts on wildlife, water, and soil and encouraging regeneration with desirable species. How to regenerate and improve a future forest stand should be considered before harvesting. The harvest design has to take into account the long-term effects of harvesting on the environment and can affect many things in the forest, including recreation potential, wildlife, soil and water quality, and other environmental issues.

Forest regeneration/reforestation - Forest regeneration is the process of forest renewal by natural or artificial means. Natural regeneration is by natural seeding, root sprouting and fire, while artificial regeneration is by direct seeding and seedling planting. Before starting any harvesting operation, the plan for regeneration should be in place. Regeneration is very important to ensure long-term sustainable woodlot management.

Wildlife habitat management - Proper woodlot management can secure, improve and diversify wildlife habitat while keeping the woodlot healthy and productive. Ecological diversity will increase and many wildlife species will benefit if wildlife values are considered in woodlot management. The detailed description on management activities will depend on your goals, wildlife species requirement and forest structure. In managing woodlots for wildlife, the woodlot owner has to recognize that it will not be possible to manage for all wildlife. The landowner will therefore have to determine the potential of his land for various species and develop a management plan that will retain or create suitable habitat for those of interest.

Grazing management - Forage production (the growth of grass, forbs and shrubs) and grazing in Alberta forests can go hand in hand with timber production and wildlife habitats. There is evidence that in forestland in Alberta there are abundant opportunities for enhancing range values while having a potential for timber production. Livestock grazing combined with good silviculture gives owners a way to integrate operations. In fact, combining grazing and timber production can be more profitable than emphasizing one resource over the other.

Forest tending - Forest tending refers to any management activity which modifies forest vegetation to better meet landowner objectives. Forest is tended to improve growth rate, volume, quality and values of trees in forest. Some common forest tending activities include: thinning, pruning, brushing, weeding and fertilizing.

Some objectives of forest tending may include: increase volume or value of timber, reduce losses to insects, diseases and fire, improve growth rate, control stand density, control species composition in forest and others.

Road and trails design - Roads play an important role in your property. The main function of a well-laid out road and trail systems is to allow access to areas for forest management purposes while minimizing any negative environmental damage. The purpose (eg. for harvesting, recreations, fire access, etc) of the trail system decides its location, length, width, time of year to be used, frequency of use, who uses it and the degree of construction necessary. In many cases, you can use the field edges, areas of open forest and old trials for access to your woodlots. You have to map the existing or new roads and trails system in your land. Design of roads and trails will include: width, length and surface type(e.g. gravel, hardpack, etc). If you do not have experience you might hire a forest technical or other professionals to layout the trail system on your woodlot.

Forest protection - A healthy forest is a very important factor for maintaining sustainable woodlots. Potential injury to woodlots (trees) can occur by animals (wild or domestic), insect and disease, weather, fire and humans. Some of these damages can have devastating (eg. fire) results on your woodlot while some of them could be just normal parts of forest ecosystem (e.g small insect or diseases infestation or frost damage). One of the most devastating is wildfire and you might want to plan some management activities that will reduce the risk of fire.

Forest products - For municipal and federal tax purpose landowners have to provide information on forest products that are in their woodlot. There are three types of forest products that landowners can obtain from woodlots and they are:
  1. Timber forest products- this includes all revenue from selling timber and timber products. Some of the most common timber products are: selling standing timber, rough green lumber, special lumber products and wood value added products.
  2. Special forest products which will include: wild mushrooms, ginseng, products for crafts and Christmas tree production.
  3. Services- this is indirect forest products and includes: recreation and tourism and services that follow these two industries.
Economics - Economics of woodlots is a very important factor and in many cases is critical to achieving your goals and objectives. Estimate your revenues and expenses for the woodlot operation. You may need to find financial support for such costs as labor, equipment, harvesting, reforestation and other activities. You have to determine the available labor in your area, type of equipment necessary for your woodlot operation as well as the time needed to carry out the activities and monitoring. All this resource information is critical and has to be evaluated before developing a sustainable woodlot management plan. You can develop a separate woodlot business plan.

Record of management activities/changes
Even the best management plan is worthless if it is not implemented. Monitoring is needed to determine whether the goals and objectives are being met. Monitoring activities include:
  • Identifying necessary changes in the activities if goals and objectives are not being met,
  • Keeping a record of the activities such as harvesting , reforestation , tending, insects damages or any activities are happened in your woodlot
Template for Basic Woodlot Management Plan (pdf 114kb)
 
 
 
 
For more information about the content of this document, contact Toso Bozic.
This document is maintained by Brenda McLellan.
This information published to the web on December 2, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on March 8, 2010.