a stand of Douglas fir trees

If you’re wondering what to do with your forest land, you’re not alone. “What should I do with my woodland?” is one of the most common questions we hear.

Forest management is a long-term process. Having a plan for how you’ll manage your land is critical. Lucky for us, Managing Your Woodland: A Non-forester’s Guide to Small-scale Forestry in British Columbia has much wisdom to share on the topic of forest management planning. We’ve summarized some of it below for your easy reference.

1. Start with your personal goals and objectives.

Getting started is always the hardest part of any project. When it comes to planning your forest management activities, your personal goals and objectives will help guide the planning process. Before you can outline your long-term, medium-term and short-term plans you first need to determine what your personal goals and objectives are.

Your goals represent your vision for your land—what you hope to achieve—while your objectives represent the approach you’ll take to achieve that vision.

2. Ask yourself: “Why do I own my land?”

It may sound like a simple question, but it will help you to focus in on what your goals are. Some other questions to consider include: What are your family’s interests? How do your financial and estate planning goals fit in? How much time do you have to spend on your woodland? Do you plan to do the work yourself or hire professional help?

3. Learn as much about your land as you can.  

Education, education, education! Educating yourself is an important step in helping to identify your goals and objectives. The more you understand about what affects the values associated with your land, the more able you are to take advantage of future opportunities. Remember: how you manage your land today may affect the value of your forest for years to come.

4. Ask for help.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or indecisive, ask for help. You can hire a professional forester to help assess your forest and your options (find tips for what to look for when hiring a forestry professional at the bottom of our forest inventory post). Neighbours and other forest owners are also valuable sources of information and inspiration.

5. Your goals and objectives will change so be flexible.

There are no right or wrong goals, only your own goals. Recognise that your goals and objectives will change over time as your needs, interests and circumstances change. Some goals and objectives may be mutually achievable while others may conflict. Don’t worry about that—setting goals will help you to clarify and prioritize your interests and activities.

The table below includes specific examples of goals and objectives you might decide on for your woodland.*

Goal  Objective
Investment for future resale.
Have a nest egg to fall back on.
Improve the property’s appearance and increase the property value. Manage to improve timber values.
Supplement income. Generate revenue to pay for taxes and for other family needs (child’s university or retirement). Provide employment for family members or others to become self sufficient. Create forest land based business. Manage for timber production, agroforestry, ranching, and/or commercial recreation, tourism and/or education.
Sell gravel, lease land.
Produce firewood or lumber or fence-posts or Christmas trees or botanical products for own use and/or sale.
Practice conservation and keep the woodland natural. Manage for biodiversity and wildlife habitat. Restore damaged ecosystems. Survey and document all ecosystems on the property. Reforest denuded areas and marginal land.
Produce high quality timber. Establish optimal management regimes and practice intensive silviculture from reforestation through to harvest. Create a specific timber profile (species and grade) over the rotation.
Provide a source of water. Maintain and protect riparian areas, streams, wetlands and lakes and aquifer recharge zones. Maintain forest cover.
Increase wildlife habitat for…(your species preference). Manage for (specified) forest conditions to create habitat conditions, increase the number of wildlife trees, diversify species composition.
Learn about forestry through practice. Practice a woodlot lifestyle and try your own ideas.
Create a legacy for my kids.
Plan and carry out own management activities and involve family members. Take a master woodland manager course. Join a woodlot association. Take part in extension activities and field trips.
Provide outdoor learning and recreational opportunities for family and friends. Identify and develop facilities (trails, campsites, blinds) for fishing, hiking, camping, cycling, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, hunting, bird and wildlife watching.
Reduce property and income taxes. Qualify for managed forest land classification. Learn about tax and estate planning. Set up proper business and tax structure.


*source: Managing Your Woodland: A Non-forester’s Guide to Small-scale Forestry in British Columbia. 2002. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre, Victoria, BC, 2nd Edition. Copublished by the Small Woodlands Forestry Program of British Columbia. 300 p.