Getting the Most From Private Forests

Oklahoma City—Too many Oklahoma landowners are literally giving away cash each year because they don’t understand the value of trees and timber, said State Forester, John Burwell with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.  Resources are available to help landowners receive long term and sustainable financial returns for timber.

"Our biggest problem in the state right now is that a large percentage of the state's tree harvests are done without the advice of a professional," he said.  "Often a sale consists of a logger or logging company making a landowner an offer for his trees.

“Thinking the offer is a lot of money the landowner takes it with no understanding of the impact on the future of the stand.”  Burwell said, “Enlisting the services of a professional forester can provide management options and get a higher price by marking the trees, putting out bids and letting competition dictate the sale price.”

There are many quality-of-life benefits from forests and timberland as well, he said.

"Far too many people fail to realize the benefits besides wood production their trees are having on their land and in the community around it," Burwell said. "Timber is a valuable resource for wildlife habitat, water, air and wood production. When trees are properly managed, you receive those benefits and realize a greater profit at harvest time."

The first step to effective tree farming for most landowners is to locate a professional forester for advice and an evaluation of their property.

After that, the landowner can discuss both short term and long term goals for timber production and get an evaluation of the land with the forester.  Burwell said determining the types of trees on the land and identifying potential problems that could impair growth are keys to increasing the productivity of any timber stand.

The forester will then outline recommended actions in a forest management plan.  Ultimately the timber will likely be harvested for sale and at that point the goal will be to maximize the landowner’s income.

“Not waiting for the timber to reach maturity is the single most costly mistake we see timber owners make,” he said.  “That’s a mistake that won’t happen to someone using a professional forestry consultant.”

For forestry assistance, information on managing your forest land or locating a professional forester, contact Oklahoma Forestry Services at 405-522-6158 and ask for the OFS forester who serves your area or a list of private consulting foresters.