About the What Will My Woods Look Like? Before and After Timber Harvesting Book

At a conference panel discussion for woodland owners, a consulting forester in the audience asked the question “What do landowners look for in their forest management plans?” One of the panelists replied, “You know, basal area and minimum stocking recommendations are all well and good, but what I really want to know is, what will my woods look like?” From that comment, this effort was born.

This booklet attempts to answer that question with a series of paired photos, each taken from the same, or nearly the same, location and direction, before and after a timber harvest. The sets are identified by the type of harvest activity (thinning, patch cut, etc.) and includes a short generic description of the type of woods concerned.

There are several parts to the captions for each photo. The first is how a woodland owner might view their woods and express their goals for their land. The next is how a forester might describe the pre-harvest stand and post-harvest results, written in the forestry profession’s language. Then the logger’s view, which is often through an operational lens but also considers forest health and aesthetics. Finally, a statement of likely wildlife outcomes, which are often a higher priority for landowners than other silvicultural objectives. The hope is that linking the photos with the various points of view will serve as a “translator” that will help both professionals and landowners understand each other better. With this understanding, there may be a greater willingness for woodland owners to carry out the recommendations of their resource professionals, and a greater probability that foresters and loggers can deliver good results to their customers.

The forest scenes were chosen to be familiar and representative of family woodlands in Maine. Most of the woodlots shown are open to the public; it’s always better to visit the sites in person if possible. The landowner names, locations and contact information for most of these lots are included at the end of the booklet.

The type of harvesting equipment used is noted, but is not meant to be a recommendation of one logging system or another. As always, it’s the person who runs the machinery that makes the final result what it is.

Our hope is that landowners, loggers, and foresters take this book and talk about what they see, like, and understand before the job starts. Which, we also hope, will lead to more and better applied silviculture in the form of sustainable timber harvesting.