What’s a forest management plan?

A forest management/stewardship plan is a working guide that allows you as a landowner to maximize a mix of forest benefits, including wildlife, timber, recreation, aesthetic value and other benefits. Because many changes to a forest are seen over time, a plan is essential to guiding the future of your forest land.

A good plan combines the natural and geographic characteristics of your woodlot with your interests and objectives to produce a set of forest management recommendations. PA Forest Stewardship Plans, Tree Farm Plans, National Resource Conservation Service CAP106 Plans are now comparable. You will need to hire a plan writer trained by the DCNR Bureau of Forestry or a Technical Service Provider trained by NRCS to complete a full plan; you may also wish to look at the simple Forestry for the Bay Plans that a landowner can complete online.

The basic components of a forest stewardship plan are:

  • Goals and Objectives – The plan begins with a statement of your goals and objectives and is meant to express the what you desire for the future of the land. Few landowners have goals that seek to maximize timber production, but many landowners are interested in timber harvest activities that enhance wildlife, recreation, forest health, and other forest benefits.
  • Maps – The maps denote your property’s location, boundaries, forest stands and soil types.
  • Inventory – Examples include a timber inventory complete with fill volume, stocking and species information; an inventory of critical areas and/or endangered species; biological inventory; descriptions of geological features, cultural features, ecological communities and soil data. The intensity of the survey can vary depending on your interests.
  • Activities – This part of the plan provides detailed actions steps to meet the mentioned goals and objectives. This includes a chronology of activities that will be done each year over the next 10-year period.

Plans are typically written for a 10-year period but should be updated about every 5 years.

More information about the Pennsylvania Forest Stewardship Program.