Module 1a: Woodlot Management Planning

Lesson One - The Importance of Planning

Why is Planning Important?


Suppose that you are travelling in an unfamiliar area. You aren’t sure where you are going or how you will get there. Your surroundings look unfamiliar and you don’t recognize any of the road signs.

That’s what managing a woodlot without a plan is like.

Your woodlot is an incredibly diverse place. It provides habitat for hundreds of species of animals, most of which you can’t see. Most of them are hidden in the soil beneath your feet. There, plant roots share water and nutrients with tiny strands of living fungi. These associations contribute to the health of the forest and are part of what makes a forest a dynamic living community. When humans begin to manage such complex systems, it takes careful planning and a sound knowledge of the science of ecology.

Once you have a plan in place, all the other activities on your woodlot will begin to make sense. You will gain a richer understanding of the ways in which your woodlot can meet your environmental and economic goals, and you will enjoy your woodlot as a place you can go for recreation, spiritual renewal and solitude. 

Good planning is the most important step in woodlot management

First Steps


As a woodlot owner, you can gain much knowledge by watching what happens on your woodlot over time. If you are able, get out and explore your woodlot. During the course of decades, some tree species will be replaced by others. Ground vegetation may also change, and species of wildlife will come and go. Soils are the most static feature of your woodlot, and a good knowledge of soils can help you understand what happens above the ground on your woodlot.

Neighbouring woodlot owners can be valuable. If they have completed forest management work or built roads, or maintained boundary lines, ask them about it. They can often put you on the right path for contacting people “in the know”, and can also give you a sense of whether they are satisfied with work that has been done.

In this, the first module of the Woodlot Home Study Course, you will learn how planning is the single most important step in meeting your woodlot management objectives, and which elements should be contained in a woodlot management plan.


Valuing Your Woodlot: More than Finances

Why do you own a woodlot, or, if you don’t, why would you want to own one? This question deserves a lot of thought. Rarely do any two woodlot owners share exactly the same long-term desires and objectives.

Some woodlots are inherited, having been passed from one generation to the next over centuries, while others are bought on a whim. The vast majority of woodlots are acquired somewhere in between these two extremes, and it is important to understand the reasons for ownership.


Recreation is an essential value for many woodlot owners  

If you own land, you probably have a set of values that you place on your property. For most woodlot owners the value of their woodlot often means more than its economic value. Some landowners place a high value on recreation: their woodlot is a place they can go to walk, observe wildlife, cut fire wood, hunt and fish. Others seek solitude and an escape from the hustle and bustle of a busy life.

Many woodlot owners enjoy the challenges of managing a woodlot for multiple resources. They enjoy getting out for a walk in the woods, away from their workday lives, but would like to see some financial gain from the resources their woodlot holds.

Viewing wildlife is important to most woodlot owners  

It can be difficult to meet many objectives all at once. A woodlot is dynamic, constantly changing and full of life and opportunities for the owner. Good planning will help you set objectives and priorities to meet the values important to you.