Managing your forested property can take many different forms. “Your plan is based on your own goals for the property,” said New York Tree Farm’s (NYTF) Erin Perry, Area Chair of the Capital Region and entrance to the Adirondacks, areas 3 and 4. – “Whatever it is that you want to use the property for, your management plan is built on that. All of these plans involve some sort of harvesting. The goal of a management plan is to nurture the natural progression of the forest with an underlying theme. What species that you harvest or leave may be determined by the wildlife you want to cultivate habitat for. Or perhaps there’s a stream out back that you like to go swimming in, and water quality is driving the shape of your forest. Forest management plans are based on your goals and what you want to use it for.”
Perry’s involvement with NYTF has varied over the past 18 years, ranging from being a forest inspector, the NYTF chair, past chair and currently an area chair. “I’m no longer an active inspector, however as an area chair I server a coordinating role for our all volunteer inspectors. Our inspectors help smaller landowners that need help, but get forgotten by the bigger guys that don’t take on small clients.”
According to Perry, tree farm inspectors are “the boots on the ground for the program. They’re meeting with landowners, keeping tree farmers engaged and helping them meet the expectations of the tree farm system and managing their forest to a tree farm standard.”
The inspection process is important for four separate reasons: maintaining your accrediation through NYTF, forest management, community outreach, and data accrual. “Obviously it’s important to check that the standards of the program are being followed, that everyone that has that NYTF sign are following those standards. So approximately every 5 years someone comes around to perform a multistep inspection for the integrity of the program.” Typically management plans are created for a ten year period. “The biggest thing that we’re looking for is that they’re following a plan. That they’ve worked with a professional, and are following a sustainable program. Programs can always change, but it’s necessary that they have a plan that can be reviewed on a regular basis.”
Perry continued on the importance of community outreach. “Secondly inspectors focus on communication, outreach, and fostering community. Inspectors visit about 20% of tree farms annually, which helps keep the foresters and the tree farm board more accessible to members. With that regular inspection and communication, it means it’s not just someone you met 20 years ago that is helping with your tree farm.”
Lastly, inspectors help gather statewide and nationwide data on tree farms. “When bills are being passed by state and national legislature, it’s important to know how many tree farms are out there,” said Perry. “By having an accurate database of acres, number of forested properties, knowing how long it has been in a family and how many generations, etc., that can help shape the conversation on a state and national level when it comes to funding and bills.”
If you’ve recently received a notice that you’re due for inspection, it’s important to reach out to your forester and set up a visit. Not only will you have help towards achieving your goals with your property, but you’ll learn more about the health of your forest, the community that you’re part of, and help shape the national conversation on our nation’s tree farm system. If your recertification period with NYTF is coming up, you should make sure to have an updated management plan in place within the past year.