Landowners who own woodlands have an opportunity to make use of their land as a long-term source of income. Cyclical harvesting systems that provide ongoing income on a regular basis particularly maximize the long-term monetary value of forests, while retaining their value as scenic, carbon capturing ecosystems that enrich our lives in a less literal sense. While heavy harvesting yields more lump-sum capital, small, occasional harvests provide more regular income that often helps landowners to avoid paying income taxes at a higher rate due to large one-off payments.
What is Sustainable Logging?
Sustainable logging is a modern approach to timber harvesting that minimizes the impact on ecosystems while simultaneously protecting the economic value of forests. In fact, by protecting forests from over-harvesting, the land can produce far more economic value in the long term. This practice can be broken down into a simple multistep process.
The first step is assessing what level of logging can be regenerated indefinitely by woodland and which timber harvest systems are best suited to both the economic and environmental goals of the landowner. We assess the quality of the soil, whether it’s rich or sandy, what is growing naturally, what other species are nearby, and other factors to determine both what regeneration goals we should have and what method of harvest will ultimately yield the best results all around.
In some cases, soil integrity and local ecology are best adapted to gradual harvests that minimize impact. In most instances, we implement patch cutting to clear an area to open it up for more desirable tree species like yellow birch and white pine, planning ahead for the next harvest, often more than two decades later.
Once the type and regenerative capacity of a forest are well understood, a plan can be assembled that doesn’t exceed a forest’s regeneration and minimizes the impact on the ecosystem. What such a plan looks like depends on the land itself, but often it includes a multipart plan to harvest timber gradually every 5 to 20 years in a cycle that keeps enough adult trees to keep seed abundant while harvesting enough prime trees to be a very profitable endeavor.
Balancing the needs for both profit and ecological stability is important, but a great sustainable plan will also consider other factors, like the changes to wood resources over time. This may mean harvesting less, or differently today to maximize the harvestable resources down the line when demand is expected to be higher and more urgent. This not only makes personal economic sense but serves the community’s needs as well.
Plans for selective and shelterwood timber harvesting systems should also account for difficulties with terrain, noting any sensitive or endangered fauna and flora as well as how to minimize the impact on these elements of the ecosystem. Planning skid trails with minimal footprints, or through the most stable parts of the woodland, helps minimize the impact on the ecosystem.
Once you have a plan that accounts for long-term regeneration and maximizes the stability of the local ecosystem, active management can begin. This means implementing the best timber harvest system for the situation on a schedule that retains the most efficacious regenerative capacity.
At this stage, having a reliable, trustworthy logging company, like Day Logging, is essential. While some loggers may take shortcuts when executing a plan, Day Logging is a certified master logger. This means that our reputation and certification are reliant on our follow-through on sustainable logging plans. Logging companies without this certification are more likely to lean on traditional, less environmentally focused, and sustainability-driven logging practices.
Timber Harvest Systems
To make sure there is a clear understanding of what timber harvesting systems are in use, here is a quick overview.
This harvesting system is focused on totally clearing patches of land. In some environments, this provides a much-needed environmental event that catalyzes natural regenerative processes and assists fauna and flora in the system with their life cycles. In Maine and New Hampshire clearcutting provides a range of benefits. It encourages biodiversity through regeneration, open land for animal habitat, and creates a new uniform age growth that can make future harvests more productive and valuable.
This system has its place in Maine and New Hampshire’s ecosystem, depending on the landowners’ goals and general objectives. It also leads to the most income in the least amount of time. It is sometimes used to clear land for housing or commercial development.
Clearcutting can also be helpful to the overall environmental effort. For example, large areas need to be cleared to develop solar power farms that need direct sunlight or wind farms that require direct wind, without the interference of a canopy, to function.
The shelterwood harvesting system focuses on limited clearing of forests that leave sheltering canopies in place and maintain a viable population of adult trees for regeneration. Often this harvesting system leads to a cyclical harvest that harvests trees at a specific age and gives time for each successive generation to reach this threshold before harvesting. This is a middle option that balances economic and environmental needs.
Selective cutting is perhaps the least interruptive approach to harvesting and produces less immediate economic benefit than clearcutting, however, it often yields the best economic return in the long term. Most often, selective cutting is used to remove diseased, malformed, and less valuable species of timber from a woodlot. This makes room for the most valuable trees to produce more offspring and populate the stand with straighter, healthier, more valuable trees. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that even strategic timber harvesting approaches like selective cutting need years between harvests in order to yield consistent value.
Why Day Logging?
Day Logging has been in business since 1946 and is proud to be family-owned throughout its history. Our specialty lies in balancing the need for wood our clients have and making sure we conserve the Earth, as we only, and will only have, one to use. Our master logger certification is a formal recognition of this reality.
Day Logging employs a range of professionals and is proud to serve landowners and mills across Maine & New Hampshire. We can help you with your wood needs and other compliances, just contact us today to get started.