Managing Forests & Woodlands
With proper management, forests and backyard woodlands can provide landowners with many opportunities for income, recreation, and stewardship of native plants and wildlife. However, poorly managed forests can suffer from pests and disease, trees of poor quality, and invasive exotic plants that choke out desirable native species.
Forestry consultants, foresters, and the Virginia Department of Forestry Services can help you maximize the value of the forests by developing a forest management plan.
- Virginia Department of Forestry Forest Management Services: A guide to the services available from the Virginia Department of Forestry. Some services are free, and others are for a fee.
- Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program: Provides free classes and educational opportunities for forest landowners offers a wide variety of science-based educational opportunities for new and experienced forest landowners.
- USFS Silvics Manual: A guide to more than 200 trees commonly found in U.S. forests.
- Forest Landowner Update Newsletter: Online newsletter from Virginia Tech covering topics of interest to forest owners.
Before you Harvest Timber
- Be sure to check the qualifications and references for anybody who is going to be removing trees from your property. Disreputable contractors may offer a price that is below the market value for your timber, or they may selectively take only the healthiest and most valuable trees, leaving only the unhealthy and low-value trees. This process, known as "high-grading," can destroy the future value of your forest, since it removes both the best trees and their ability to provide good seeds for the next generation of trees, while allowing seeds from low-value trees to spread. By working with qualified experts in the field of forestry, you can ensure that you meet both your current and future goals for your property.
- If your forest is within a Steep Slopes, Mountainside, or Limestone Overlay District, County law requires you to submit a forest management plan to the County and the Virginia Forest Service before cutting any timber. You can contact the Building and Development Department at 703-777-0220 to determine if your property falls within one of these districts.
Information for Professionals
- Virginia’s SHARP Logger Program (Sustainable Harvesting and Resource Professional): Provides training to loggers, foresters, and others throughout Virginia. This training focuses on the principles of sustainable forestry, environmental protection, and workplace safety.
- Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program: Continuing education opportunities for natural resource and real estate professionals.
- Mid-Atlantic Chapter, International Society of Arboriculture: A non-profit professional organization of arborists, urban foresters, and others involved in the caring of trees.