Rawlings Consulting Forestry, PLLC: Serving forest landowners in North Carolina since 1983
A stand of loblolly pine

Forest Management Plans

A forest management plan is a guide that provides a series of steps or recommendations designed to assist the forest landowner in obtaining the goals and objectives of forest land ownership.

Each forest management plan, from the very basic to the most comprehensive in nature, is tailored to the individual objectives, goals and needs of the landowner. While the production of forest products remains the foremost consideration for most landowners, the recreational benefits of land ownership are becoming increasingly important. Activities such as mountain biking, trail riding, hiking, and hunting are considered by many to be vital aspects of land ownership and can be alternative sources of income. Other landowners strive for the perfect wildlife habitat to encourage and increase the population of quail, turkey, rabbit and, for some, federally endangered species such as the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. The forest management plan blends the landowner's objectives, goals, and leisure activities with the production of forest products in an environmentally sensitive manner.

Basic Forest Management Plans

Basic forest management plans are short-term in nature and generally cover a time period of 10 years or less. These plans are often referred to as tax plans or Forestry Present-Use-Value Property Tax Plans. The plans generally provide very fundamental forest management recommendations or are used to address a specific need, such as reforestation. Basic forest management plans include the following:

Forest management plans also include relevant supplemental forest management information about water quality, woods path maintenance, prescribed burning, and the marking of property lines. With respect to water quality, a forest management plan may also contain applicable Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs), information on streamside management zones (SMZs), and special river rules enacted by the NC Division of Water Quality.

Comprehensive Forest Management Plans

Comprehensive forest management plans are long-term in nature and generally cover a time period that extends until the final harvest of the current timber stand. Frequently, comprehensive forest management plans will also cover reforestation, or the establishment of a new timber stand, with growth projections and recommendations for the first thinning based on soil productivity.

Comprehensive forest management plans often provide detailed forest management recommendations based on a current forest inventory, tree growth data, and/or tree growth projections. They include all of the features of a basic forest management plan, and may also incorporate the following:

Forest Stewardship Plans & Tree Farm Plans

Forest management plans, from the very basic to the most comprehensive, can be adapted for use with one or both of the Forest Stewardship Program and/or the Tree Farm System. The Tree Farm program and the Forest Stewardship program can provide forest landowners additional benefits such as practical sustainable forestry, third-party certification, an involvement in a community of like-minded forest landowners, and recognition for excellent forest stewardship.