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Manage Your Timberland for Wildlife and Profit

10th April 2012
By timberland in Trusts
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Proper management of timberland is essential to accomplish good returns from your investment and to meet your specific goals. Forest and timberland habitats reflect many natural forces which impact them. These forces are wind, ice, fire, floods, insects and disease. Many wildlife species depend on these natural disturbances to create habitat for their survival. In the absence of suitable habitat, many animals will simply move on to a more desirable environment. Forest openings from these disturbances increase the availability of sunlight to the forest floor, which generates a dramatic increase of understory plants. This provides abundant cover and food for many species. This is true of most timberland nationwide, but nowhere is it more true than in South Arkansas and North Louisiana.

A forest can be divided into the following layers - canopy, mid-story and understory. Some animal species use all layers while others access only one or two. Although tree canopies serve as food and nesting sites for a variety of wildlife, many forest dwellers depend on food and cover at ground level. Without disturbances, the tree canopy shades out wildlife sustaining plants and impedes growth of seedlings on the forest floor. When deer management on hunting properties is the objective, it is important to encourage the growth of browse that is within easy reach.

Periodic disturbances can be initiated through harvests as part of timberland management. Thinning is a valuable forest management practice and can be conducted with wildlife in mind, for timber production, for recreational land purposes, or for all three. The decision to remove a tree should be based on harvesting the lower quality and less desirable tree species. Taking the best trees decreases the overall quality of the forest for wildlife and timber production. Remove tree and shrub species that have less wildlife and economic value in order to reduce competition around the valuable crop trees. Removing the competition increases growth rates of the valuable trees and allows their crowns to expand. For timberland that has been purchased as an investment property, this means harvesting the least valuable species first to allow the most economically viable species to grow toward the next selective harvest. Increased sunlight to the understory will encourage seedlings from desirable overstory trees and increase browse and cover for wildlife underneath.

In your wildlife and timber management plan consider how the forest will replenish itself. As the forest canopy and mid-story are opened, plan for regenerating desirable tree species that do not grow in shaded conditions. Older trees will eventually die or be harvested and are then replaced by young seedlings. Build tree regeneration into your plan in order to increase the value of the timberland. If yours is a timberland investment property in Arkansas or Louisiana, this natural tree regeneration should be Loblolly Pines or one of the more valuable species of Oak.

Managing large timberland tracts as hunting properties, investment properties and recreational land for a sustained yield of forest products can be complicated and requires professional advice. A landowner in Arkansas or Louisiana should give serious consideration to hiring a consulting forester. Avoid the services of an unsolicited timber buyer who will often remove high quality trees and leave those with low economic and wildlife value. A good forestry consultant will mark each tree to be harvested with two spots of paint, one at eye level and one at the ground. The top spot makes the marked trees easy to locate, and the butt spot leaves paint on the stump for verification that only the marked trees were harvested.

There are many timberland properties available across South Arkansas and North Louisiana and now is a great time to buy land. Even property purchased as hunting land can be a good timberland investment property.
Timberland Real Estate has Arkansas land for sale and Louisiana land for sale. Take a look and see what they have to offer.
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