What Will My Woods Look Like?

Before and After Timber Harvesting

Cover of What Will My Woods Look Like? book

Before a timber harvest, there are many things to think about, questions to answer, details to consider. One important outcome that woodland owners often have a hard time imagining is “What will my woods look like after the job is done?”

This website and the associated booklet (PDF | 29.8 MB) show some typical forest stands before and after different kinds of logging operations. The pictures are intended to help start a pre-harvest discussion about post-harvest results. The forest scenes also help tell the story of woodland stewardship, forest management and the professionals who make it happen.

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.

We would love to expand the “What Will My Woods Look Like” library of before/during/after picture sets with your photos.

Photo Location

Please try to take all the shots in the series from the same point of view, same angle, same zoom, similar light conditions, etc. We know this is not always possible, but it makes the comparisons better if they are close.

It really helps to have a recognizable reference feature in all the pictures in the series. This can be a sign post, a big rock or stone wall, or an easily recognizable tree. Again, this makes for better before-and-after comparison. Consider setting up a Picture Post, for long term visual documentation of the location. Go to https://picturepost.unh.edu/  for more about this.

Photos with People

Please do not send pictures with people in them unless you have a written release that their pictures can be used. When you send us photos, you are granting the Maine Forest Service permission to publish in print and on the website.

Photo Guidelines

Ideally, pictures will be print quality resolution, 300 d.p.i. or better. Some tips to considering before submitting your pictures:

  • When taking pictures from a digital camera, it’s best to set your camera to the highest resolution setting.
  • Your screen resolution doesn’t accurately reflect your image resolution. To view print resolution of your image, zoom in up to 300-400% on your screen.
  • If you are not sure how to set your camera’s resolution, please consult your camera’s user manual or search the internet for your model of camera.


Please write your own captions. You can choose to keep the exact location & landowner contact information confidential, or make it public, with landowner permission. We do need to know who is sending the pictures, though-- no anonymous submissions please.


Video is also welcome, just remember that the file size may be too large to send as an attachment. We are also interested in going beyond timber harvests—other types of woods operations, such as site preparation and planting, culvert replacement, road or bridge building, etc. will also be considered for inclusion, if it helps landowners and other non-forestry professionals envision the results of the activity.

Photo Submissions

Please submit your photo series to forestinfo@maine.gov. For large files, you might need to post your pictures using a file sharing service, such as Dropbox, and send us a link.

MFS will review the submissions, potentially edit for clarity, and ultimately decide whether or not to add the series to the website. If you have any questions about suitability, please contact the MFS Landowner Outreach Forester at 207 287-8430.

Profiles of Woodland Stewardship

Here you will find true stories of Maine’s woodlands and the people who care for them. The landowners profiled here are model stewards; their woodlands are visible demonstrations of conservation applied on the ground. Each story embodies several steps along the path of stewardship.