So many products and resources we use daily result from management and harvesting of forests. In addition, Pennsylvanians enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities that take place in forested environments. Because forests are so important to our daily lives, caring for and maintaining our forests is an important job.
It’s easy to assume that if humans just leave a forest a lone it will be fine. Ecologically this may be true, but because humans have needs and wants associated with both public and private forests (see the sidebar of every day products that come from Pennsylvania’s trees!), forest management processes can help make sure the needs and want s of people today are fulfilled, while at the same time preserving the forest’s capacity to continue filling society’s needs into the future. Even choosing to take no management action on a parcel of land is still a management decision that will have consequences.
The forest manager’s role is to help landowners (who may be private citizens, corporations, or units of government) manage land to achieve specified goals while protecting soil, water, plants, and animals. When developing management plans, forest managers consider relevant local, state, and federal laws and regulations, such as endangered species regulations or conservation easements, as well as their own knowledge of ecological processes and best management practices. Students many not be familiar with the many technical guidelines that managers would draw on and comply with to develop their management plans. This activity simply provides an introduction to the types of questions and issues that forest managers may encounter in developing forest management plans.
Trees provide more than just wood! This list is just a small sampling of products that come from Pennsylvania trees.
Instructor preparation for the activity:
Fold the 8.5”x 11” sheet of paper (see page 66) into four equal quadrants. Unfold the paper. Draw on the paper a river that transects each of the quadrants. Add lakes, wetlands, tributaries, etc., so that each quadrant has something interesting. Then add a highway and roads, as well as natural features such as rock outcroppings, beaver dams, etc. Draw lines to delineate forest types and other land uses, such as maple/basswood, lowland hardwood, oak, aspen/birch, former row crop land, former pasture, etc. Number each quadrant, and then cut the paper along the fold lines.Then fold the paper into equal quadrants, cut on fold lines, and distribute one quadrant to each group.
1. Introduce students to the concept of forest management by discussing management plans for sites nearby or familiar to the students. Have real plans and maps on hand, if possible, to discuss the relationship between management plans and what you see in the forest today. Be sure to discuss the importance of goals and priorities in making decisions about forest management.
2. Tell participants that they are going to become forest management consultants during this activity. Divide participants into four groups and distribute one quadrant of the hypothetical map to each group. Mention that one inch square equals 10 acres on the map.
3. Provide one “client card” to each group, and let participants know that their task is to fulfill the needs of the client listed on their card. They should consider the client’s goals, as well as the other limitations mentioned on the card.
5. Groups should report to the class their proposed courses of action. Then put the four maps together to make one big map.
CLIENT: RETIRED HOMEOWNER
We bought this parcel of land so we can build a lovely retirement home that our children and grandchildren will visit and eventually inherit. We need to identify a suitable home building site with aesthetic views in all directions and easy access to the main road. We hope to go for quiet walks and view wildlife on our property.
As we age, we won’t be able to do any land management activities ourselves or afford much help, but we are very worried about the possibility of forest fires destroying our home. What are your recommendations for developing and managing our property?
I bought this land so I can have my own private hunting grounds. I like to hunt or trap small game, deer, and rabbits. Since these species like forest edges, I’ll want to increase the edges and early successional areas on my land. I spent most of my savings buying the land, so I don’t have much money for improvements, but I consider this land a long-term investment and want to increase its value somehow. I live in another state and will be able to visit once or twice a year. I’m very worried about trespassers. What are your recommendations for developing and managing my property?
CLIENT: TIMBER COMPANY
Our company bought this land because we want to harvest the trees for a continuous cycle of timber sales. The land is somewhat hilly, and we want to take measures to prevent erosion and other environmental damage. We only have rough estimates for an inventory of the tree species present on the land. We want to maximize the efficiency of the harvest, so we will need some access roads. What are your recommendations for developing and managing this property?
CLIENT: RECREATION OUTFITTER
I want to start a business offering guided wilderness trips on my land. I’ll need to build trails, campsites, a headquarters building, and access roads. Because I hope to draw high-end customers, I will want to offer discrete trip supports, such as hidden supply caches, trail shelters, etc. I will host multiple groups at once, and to preserve their sense of adventure they must not encounter each other. My clients will expect to see lots of wildlife on these trips, so I must ensure these animals are abundant on my land. My primary promotional hook will be the pristine solitude of my wilderness setting. Maintaining these is my highest priority. What are your recommendations for developing and managing my property?
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. (2005). A Citizen’s Guide to DNR Forestry. St. Paul. www.mndnr.gov/forestry