Module 1a: Woodlot Management Planning

Lesson Two - Setting a Direction: Goals and Objectives


Introduction to Goal Setting

Careful planning will generate income from timber harvesting  

Your goals for woodlot management should directly reflect your values.

Common goals of woodlot owners include:

•  Supplementing income by harvesting trees or non-timber forest products

•  Managing or holding the woodlot as an investment

•  Wildlife viewing and harvesting

•  Managing the woodlot to promote healthy ecosystems

•  Actively using the woodlot for recreation and healthy living

•  Seeking solitude and spirituality

To achieve these goals, an owner must have objectives which, when implemented, should meet the landowner’s long-term goals.

Examples of objectives that meet goals include:


•  To generate supplemental income while conserving the natural appearance of the forest


•  Harvest trees in a manner that preserves the unique structure of the forest

•  Harvest enough trees over a five-year period to cover expenses and net a 20-percent profit



•  To begin to restore the Acadian forest characteristics of the woodlot


•  Maintain diversity of the woodlot

•  Encourage good quality natural regeneration with small patch cuts

•  Fill-plant sites that do not regenerate to shade-tolerant tree species

•  Maintain uneven-aged stand conditions


•  To increase the chances of seeing wildlife


•  Retain living and dead trees with cavities

•  Build and place wildlife nesting boxes in suitable locations

•  Create small openings that will encourage use by whitetail deer and forest birds



•  To enhance the woodlot for recreation


•  Identify and clear trails on suitable terrain for hiking and skiing

•  Place sitting benches at several locations

As a woodlot owner you may have several goals, all within reach. Meeting some objectives, however, requires technical skill and “woods-sense”. For this reason you will likely want to consult with a forest professional prior to embarking on an ambitious journey to meet your goals.

Setting out with a good plan is much like stepping off on the right foot. A good plan will give you direction and purpose.

A Look at Your Resources

Most woodlot owners recognize that they have a property with trees and wildlife. There may be streams flowing through the woodlot, old roads and trails, and different tree species may be growing in some areas rather than others. Some woodlot owners make their woodlots a life-long passion, learning about the various trees and ground vegetation, closely observing wildlife and learning their life habits and habitats, and taking courses that teach them how to properly fell a tree.

Many woodlot owners actively manage their properties.  

Other woodlot owners wish to manage their woodlots in a “hands-off” manner. They don’t have the time or ability to learn everything they would like to know about woodlots, or they simply may not be interested.

For both styles of woodlot ownership, it is still important to use all the expertise and information that may be available, including consulting with a forest professional. The planning stages of woodlot management are so critical that you may find that hiring a forest professional is well worth the cost.

Other woodlot owners can be valuable sources of information and enthusiasm. Talking with them can lead you to many excellent resources for your own use. Joining local woodlot owner associations has benefits that are unique and rewarding. Woodlot field days are popular and can bring together landowners with the same interests. Such networking provides good opportunities for woodlot owners to share their knowledge and experiences.

Forest Professionals

Forest professionals have the training and experience necessary for compiling a plan which will consider your goals and objectives and the best ways to meet them. They can help you to set priorities and get work done.

Forest professionals can help you determine the most realistic expectations for your woodlot, based on soils and vegetation types, presence of wildlife habitat, and the growth rates and species of trees. If required, they can estimate the volume and value of wood products, determine the best places for roads, and find boundary lines.


Consulting a forest professinal can help you achieve your goals.  

The cost of hiring a forest professional can vary, depending on your needs. Many forest professionals rely on consulting for their livelihood, so expect to pay for the services you receive. The cost of a detailed management plan can range from several hundred dollars to more than one thousand dollars. There may be additional costs for locating boundary lines, accurately assessing timber values, laying out woodlot roads, and supervising culvert and bridge installation. All of these services cost money, but you need to look at the benefits you will receive.

A relationship between a woodlot owner and forest professional can be lasting and productive. A good management plan is the result of effective collaboration, and once a forest professional becomes familiar with your land, he or she will manage it as carefully as they would their own land, but with your goals and objectives in mind.