Woods & Wildlife
3 January 2005
Virginia Cooperative Extension, Charlottesville/Albemarle County Office
460 Stagecoach Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
phone: 434.872.4580 fax: 434.872.4578
Virginia's forests make a vital contribution to our state and beyond by providing economic, consumer, environmental and aesthetic benefits essential to our quality of life. Because the majority of Virginia's forests are owned by private forest landowners, the collective decisions of forest owners like you will determine the ability of future generations to enjoy these same benefits.
Sustainable forestry consists of those forest practices that meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Specifically, sustainable forestry integrates the regeneration, growing, nurturing, and harvesting of trees for useful products while conserving soil, air, and water quality, wildlife and fish habitat, and landscape aesthetic quality.
Examples of sustainable forestry practices include:
- minimizing the impact of forest management activities on water quality
- tree planting or natural regeneration immediately following a timber harvest
- ensuring a non-declining forest land base
- maintaining important habitat elements for wildlife species
- reducing invasive exotic plant species and pests
- protecting special areas and rare habitats
While your objectives for owning forest land may vary over time, sooner or later most landowners decide to harvest timber. Timber harvesting is a powerful forest management tool, but must be used thoughtfully to ensure the sustainability of all your forest resources. It is important that you understand how forest management activities impact the sustainability of your forest and what steps you can take to ensure your goals are met within the context of good forest stewardship.
Managed forests provide an abundance of resources other than timber including wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, alternative income opportunities, and sites with special biologic and historical significance. While some areas of your forest may need to be set aside as special "hands-off" areas, careful planning and active management will allow you to combine many of your goals within the same forest stands.
Some management options and activities for you to consider:
- The borders or edges of harvest sites create unique wildlife management opportunities. Edges are transition zones between two adjoining forest or land use types. Edges may be "softened" by planting shrubs and fruit trees along harvest and field/forest borders. "Cutting-in" to forest edges will also create an irregular, scalloped edge and reduce the visual impact of timber harvesting. Timber harvests should also be designed to protect streams and provide corridors for wildlife to move into and through the area.
- Provide a variety of food, cover, and habitat for wildlife by managing some of your forest stands for a mixture of pines and hardwoods. Your forest will attract many wildlife species if you provide a diversity of habitats across your tract, such as different aged forest stands, forest openings, abandoned agricultural fields, overgrown fence lines, and streams and ponds wit clean water.
- Your forest may provide you with alternative income opportunities. In many areas of the state, private forests are leased to hunt clubs. Hunt club leasing is compatible with many other management objectives. Lease fees usually cover or exceed land tax rates and also provide a presence on your property against poaching and trespassing. Hunting fees continue to rise as quality hunting experiences become scarcer. Other alternative income sources include fee fishing, and collection of special forest products such as decorative materials (e.g. pine tips and grape vines), edibles (e.g. mushrooms and berries), and medicinals (e.g. ginseng and black cohosh).
- A thorough assessment of your forest resources prior to management activities may reveal sites with special biologic, aesthetic, or historical significance. Examples include caves, Civil War and Native American sites, cemeteries, and sensitive plant and animal habitats. Because of their significance and sensitivity, these areas are often set aside and managed solely for their unique features. You may be able to reduce your tax burden through charitable contributions such as land donations or easements of special areas. Be sure you understand your rights, obligations, and the implications for future forest management activities before entering into a conservation easement agreement.
If you are interested in finding out more about your forestry and wildlife resources please consider attending the 3rd Annual Woods and Wildlife Conference to be held on Saturday, February 5 in Charlottesville.
The all day conference is a virtual one-stop-shop for individuals, families, managers and interested persons to learn about woods, wildlife and other natural resources. The day will provide participants with multiple links to information, possible sources of financial assistance and a better understanding of their natural resources.
A variety of topics will be presented including: Timber Theft, Managing for Quail, Low Impact Harvesting, Alternative Wood Product Opportunities, Keeping Riparian areas Rich, Harvesting Timber for Wildlife, Fish Farming, Financial Assistance Programs and more.
Pre-registration is required by January 28. For registration information, a conference brochure or more program information contact Virginia Cooperative Extension at 540-948-6881, by-e-mail at [email protected] or you can download the brochure and registration form at: http://offices.ext.vt.edu/madison.
This program is sponsored by: Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Soil & Water Conservation Districts, Virginia Department of Forestry, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and in cooperation with Forest Landowners Association, Virginia Forestry Association, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources, and Virginia Tech Department of Forestry.
This program is open to all, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, veteran status, national origin, disability, or political affiliation. If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Adam Downing at 540-948-6881 during business hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.
For more information about landscape topics contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office. The local Virginia Cooperative Extension office numbers are Albemarle 872-4580, Fluvanna 591-1950, Greene 985-5236, Louisa 540-967-3422, and Nelson 263-4035.