• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
  • Pearl Sutton
stewards:
  • Beau Davidson
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Leigh Tate
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • Nancy Reading
  • Jay Angler
gardeners:
  • Jules Silverlock
  • Jordan Holland
  • Paul Fookes

First steps of woodland management - Where To Start

 
Posts: 268
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
20
5
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have about 5 acres of mixed woodland with underbrush that I want to take a more active role in managing.  To date, I haven't done much beyond cutting dead trees for firewood and clearing paths to be able to walk around.  Any tips on the first steps toward better managing this would be appreciated.   My goals are a modist amount of firewood and some green wood for green woodworking projects.
 
Posts: 36
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
11
homeschooling kids homestead
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Without further details (much more details would be needed) my best advice would be to take stock of what you have first. Take inventory. Doesn't have to be super detailed but you need to have an idea of where the birch stands are, the oaks, the walnuts, whatever you have. Brambles, berries, medicinals. A list of species you have seen. Mushrooms. Just take frequent walks throughout the year and note down on paper what you saw. I think part of the permaculture principles here would be to observe the land for as long as possible before disturbing it.

When you are ready to start actively managing it, start small. What do you want from it? Where on the land does it already provide exactly that thing? Start there and just manage that one section, even down to a fraction of an acre. Is your residence on the property? Start closest to the house. Is it a second property? Start closest to the parking spot. Is there a particularly delicious bunch of berries? Start there.
 
Posts: 5
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Do you have a state or county forester you can check with? Here in WI we have county foresters that are more than happy to come offer advice and answer questions. They will have a better understanding of the woodlot. You may be surprised at what they have to say. I believe their should always be a reason why a tree is cut down and just because it is a tree doesn't mean it's a good tree for the woodlot. Good luck.
 
author
Posts: 54
17
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jerry Ward wrote:I have about 5 acres of mixed woodland with underbrush that I want to take a more active role in managing.  To date, I haven't done much beyond cutting dead trees for firewood and clearing paths to be able to walk around.  Any tips on the first steps toward better managing this would be appreciated.   My goals are a modist amount of firewood and some green wood for green woodworking projects.




This is very exciting Jerry. I think Ezra gave some fantastic advice. I'd particularly echo " When you are ready to start actively managing it, start small. What do you want from it? Where on the land does it already provide exactly that thing? Start there and just manage that one section, even down to a fraction of an acre. Is your residence on the property? Start closest to the house. Is it a second property? Start closest to the parking spot. Is there a particularly delicious bunch of berries? Start there."

These are all great questions/prompts. I'd also echo Michael's suggestion to enlist in the services of a county/state forester. It's actually their job to help educate you about the woods you steward. They may not always have the same perspective as you, but they have a depth of experience that is invaluable and well worth learning from.

A few other thoughts. While it can be a good idea to cut dead trees for firewood, I tend to suggest folks leave dead trees in the woods - especially if they're larger and beginning to decay. They're very important to the overall health of the woods as they slowly release carbon, store water, provide habitat for fungi, birds, small mammals and invertebrates. In many cases, you can feel free to remove living trees while doing good by your woods. Just focus on the weakest, most disease prone, unhealthy, not straight, etc trees you can find. Think of it as pruning at the scale of the forest stand.

Also, look for healthy young trees 8" diameter or greater, flag them, and remove lower quality trees surrounding them to release them so they may grow faster to colonize the canopy. You can use the material you cut or leave it in the woods to decay. For lower quality trees, you could even just girdle them and leave them in place. This is also really valuable for the forest ecology. And it's faster and easier than dropping them. Just be sure you don't do this in areas where you're planning to do any cutting or recreating in the near future as you are creating a tree that will be unstable and ultimately will fall as decay sets in.

You may not find many opportunities to coppice in your woods if you've got a dense canopy since resprouts need full sun to thrive. But that's ok. Just learn how to become the best steward you can be of your woods. And that all starts by getting to know it as best you can, starting small and starting where you have the easiest access. And learning how to fell trees safely and reliably. Have fun!
 
Mark Krawczyk
author
Posts: 54
17
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Ezra Beaton wrote:Without further details (much more details would be needed) my best advice would be to take stock of what you have first. Take inventory. Doesn't have to be super detailed but you need to have an idea of where the birch stands are, the oaks, the walnuts, whatever you have. Brambles, berries, medicinals. A list of species you have seen. Mushrooms. Just take frequent walks throughout the year and note down on paper what you saw. I think part of the permaculture principles here would be to observe the land for as long as possible before disturbing it.

When you are ready to start actively managing it, start small. What do you want from it? Where on the land does it already provide exactly that thing? Start there and just manage that one section, even down to a fraction of an acre. Is your residence on the property? Start closest to the house. Is it a second property? Start closest to the parking spot. Is there a particularly delicious bunch of berries? Start there.



Really great advice Ezra!
 
Ezra Beaton
Posts: 36
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
11
homeschooling kids homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Mark Krawczyk wrote:

Really great advice Ezra!



Thanks, I appreciate the feedback.
 
Posts: 1667
Location: Fennville MI
82
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jerry Ward wrote:I have about 5 acres of mixed woodland with underbrush that I want to take a more active role in managing.  To date, I haven't done much beyond cutting dead trees for firewood and clearing paths to be able to walk around.  Any tips on the first steps toward better managing this would be appreciated.   My goals are a modist amount of firewood and some green wood for green woodworking projects.



Something I don’t see is any indication of how old your trees are.  I’m in sw MI on 20 acres of fairly mature woodlands, regrowth from a clear cut around 1920.  Predominantly oak, both red and white, maple, black cherry, some white pines, a few beech and big leaf aspen. Loads of sassafras and some dogwood and witch hazel.

One thing about the forester advice, in Michigan it’s a private sector business. The state just recommends a licensed forester near you.
 
Jerry Ward
Posts: 268
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
20
5
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't know the age of the trees other than mixed.  I do have about 10 large black walnut trees.  But otherwise, there are a few big, old trees and lots of other size trees.  I know, not a very precise answer but it is the best of my knowledge.  This is not a mature forest.  I belive sometime in the past (maybe 40+ years ago) that the area might have been grazed.  Thus the few big old trees and lots of brushy stuff otherwise.  I do know nothing has been done in the past 20 years except the areas near my house where I harvest dead or bent trees for the little bit of firewood I use.
 
Posts: 5
1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am in Northwestern Michigan, zone 4-5, we are doing something similar with our 20 acres.  We are not living there yet.  We planted a bunch of white mulberry, willow and poplar to use for pollard and coppicing. Our property has a lot of sugar maple, white oak, old growth white pine.  Part of it was logged off and it was left a mess.  We've spent two years cleaning it up.
RWL
 
master steward
Posts: 11217
Location: USDA Zone 8a
3334
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Mark said, "While it can be a good idea to cut dead trees for firewood, I tend to suggest folks leave dead trees in the woods - especially if they're larger and beginning to decay.



This!

I am one who feels that when Mother Nature drops leaves and limbs she is doing this for a reason, which Mark does state above.

The mess that the logging companies leave also does the same process.

Clear small patches where it will let a person plant things. Then let Mother Nature work her magic on all the rest.
 
Jerry Ward
Posts: 268
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
20
5
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To be clear I estimate I don't even pull out 25% of the dead wood, and usually, it is only close to the house and on the paths I have cleared.  So there is plenty to feed the fungi and other critters.
 
Posts: 15
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Start listening to silviculture podcasts!! Best thing I did other than learning all the species and forest classification types for my area.
 
Anne Miller
master steward
Posts: 11217
Location: USDA Zone 8a
3334
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
VV good idea, here is a thread about silviculture:

https://permies.com/t/87184/Newb-convert-forest-pasture-silviculture
 
It's a tiny ad only because the water is so cold.
Rocket Ovens Movie + Rocket Oven Plans + J-Tube Plans Bundle
https://permies.com/w/rocket-ovens-bundle
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic