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Managing Small Woodlots

Posted: April 15, 2019

New Publication from Penn State Ag Alternatives

Most Pennsylvania woodland owners use their property for recreation, a place to hunt and view wildlife, or as a family legacy to pass on to the next generation. Sometimes, though, woodland owners want or need to harvest trees from their woods. Timber harvesting is a time when landowners can improve their woods for what they value and for the future or cause real damage from which the woods might not recover for generations.

A new publication from Penn State Extension, Managing Small Woodlots, will help you understand how trees and forests grow, provide steps to plan for their management, and describe how to market and sell trees. Managing Small Woodlots, authored by James Finley, Professor Emeritus of Forest Resources, Dave Jackson, Forestry Educator, Lynn Kime, Senior Extension Associate, and Jayson Harper, Professor of Ag Economics, is now available online.

Forests cover nearly 17 million acres in Pennsylvania, representing about 60 percent of the state’s land area. Private landowners own about 70 percent of the forestland (12 million acres). Forests are important to Pennsylvania’s economy. The forest products industry is the fourth-largest manufacturing segment in the state. Beyond their economic benefits, forests contribute to our quality of life by providing clean air and water, aesthetic views, stormwater control, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities – reasons many woodland owners continue to own and care for their land.

Because private forests are a dominant land ownership class, the decisions made by the estimated 740,000 private owners of one or more acres have a major impact on the economic, social, and ecological health of the state. Timber production has been a part of Pennsylvania’s economic history since the first Europeans arrived. Today, Pennsylvania’s forests contain world-class oak, maple, and cherry.

However, not all is well in the forest, nor can we get away with doing things as they were done in the past. Carefully applied science-based forestry practices are needed to restore forest health and provide future values for those who will own and manage our forests in the future. As a woodlot owner, you may have thought about the future of your woodland and what you might do to improve its condition and value. Check out Managing Small Woodlots; it is a great resource to get you started.

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