Land Management Services
Sustainable Resource Management, Inc. offers a wide range of services, including:
- Stewardship Planning
- Boundary Line Work
- Forest Inventory and Appraisal
- Invasive Species Control
- Improving Biodiversity
- Timber Harvesting
- Water Quality, Erosion, and Sedimentation
- Trail and Road Layout
- Wildlife Management
- Continuous Forest Inventory
- Timber Trespass
- Logger Training
Stewardship Plans are maps that detail landowner objectives, current forest conditions, and specific recommendations on how to achieve the desired objectives. Visit Stewardship Planing to learn more.
In order to actively manage a forest, it is essential to know where the property begins and ends. Many landowners assume that existing fences or old stonewalls accurately define property lines, while others have had surveys that marked corner points but do not define the lines that connect them. The good news is that for most parcels of land, finding boundaries does not require the expense of a complete survey. SRM has extensive experience locating and marking boundaries and, in most cases, can usually locate them for management purposes in a short amount of time. (Note: Maintaining well-marked boundaries is an easy and effective way to help prevent timber trespass.)
Forest inventory measures the size, volume, quality, and types of forest species on a property. An inventory lets a landowner know exactly what tools are available in his or her unique forest toolbox. Once this is established, a detailed plan can be written to achieve desired objectives and outcomes. A timber appraisal is an inventory that includes the current market value of the forest resources on the property. This information is essential in order to determine whether or not a sustainable harvest can be planned.
Invasive species are plants that are not native to the land they inhabit. They began arriving with the first settlers, who brought medicinal, ornamental, and food plants with them. Since that time, the spread of invasive species has exploded. Kudzu, multiflora rose, autumn olive, chocolate vine, garlic mustard, and Japanese stilt grass are a few of the invasive species that are causing a new array of problems in our forests. Today, harmful invasive species are changing the character of our natural ecosystems by displacing native plants, impacting native wildlife habitat, and increasing soil erosion.
In fact, the Chief of the USDA Forest Service identified invasive species as one of the four critical threats to our nation's ecosystems. Often, controlling invasive species is the make-or-break factor in the effectiveness of a management plan. SRM utilizes a variety of tools to control invasive species so that a balanced and diverse forest system is free to grow and develop.
Forests are dynamic systems that grow and change over time. Throughout the forest life cycle, diversity rises and falls. When a balanced natural forest gets older, it decreases in diversity, only to be regenerated through fires, insect damage, and blow downs. Since man's influence on the land often interrupts this natural cycle, many forests are lacking in diversity. This alters vegetation as well as the interdependent systems of insect and animal life that are found within the forest.
The practice of "high-grading", selectively cutting only the most valuable species and/or only the biggest trees throws the system even further out of balance. Since smaller trees are not necessarily younger trees (often they are simply genetically inferior), a cut that "leaves the little ones to grow" is rarely a wise plan. And while a selective removal of a high-value species can result in a higher immediate sales price, it can also result in the complete disappearance of that type of tree from the forest. High-grading also leads to a weakened forest, which is all the more susceptible to invasive species. Thus, repeatedly high-grading a forest is a devastating and completely unsustainable practice.
Based on a landowner's objectives, SRM builds genetic and vegetative diversity that serves the long-term health of the entire forest system.
Nature's way of regenerating forests is through natural disasters. Fire, wind, and insects have played an important roll in healthy forests since the dawn of time.
Silviculture-the art and practice of tending a forest enables humans to create intentional, beneficial, and controlled natural disasters. These allow us to designate how and when forests are regenerated.
One Silviculture tool is sustainable timber harvesting. Many people today have the mistaken impression that once trees are cut from a forest, they are gone forever. Yet trees are an exceptionally renewable natural resource. They are also our most sustainable natural resource, because they regenerate and decompose far faster than almost any man-made material.
With careful planning and appropriate use, timber harvesting is a valuable tool for maintaining the sustainable long-tem health and diversity of the forest system. Without careful planning, however, the wrong kind of cut can create an "unnatural" disaster. High-grading (see Improving Biodiversity above) is a practice from which the forest may never fully recover.
SRM offers well-planned, sustainable harvests that leave a healthy, diverse, and vigorous forest that is able to fully regenerate itself. In many cases, this sustainable harvesting can actually improve the value of the land. In fact, sustainable harvesting is one way in which a forest can help to pay for part or all of it's management without sacrificing a healthy forest for future generations. Click Here to see an actual case study in which SRM used a timber harvest to generate income for the landowner, improve the genetic integrity of the forest, and provide funds for the land's long-term management.
High water quality is the direct result of all other sustainable forestry efforts. Water systems are greatly affected by erosion and sedimentation, nutrification (the flow of nutrients into the water), the impact of trails and roads, and more.
SRM works to protect water quality by preparing and implementing plans that:
- Minimize erosion from stream banks to prevent sedimentation
- Maintain healthy forest soils in streamside management zones
- Promote vegetation that absorbs excess nutrients near waterways
- Plan road and trail systems that encourage water quality
- Protect and enhance forest soil health
(Note: Many states require that a written sedimentation and erosion plan be posted at the site of any soil disturbance.)
Trails and roads give us access to the forestlands that we love. Yet they are the single largest contributor to erosion, sedimentation, and degradation of water quality. They also greatly affect forest aesthetics, wildlife habitat, and vegetation. A well-planed trail or road system can provide year-round access without adversely affecting these delicate systems. Brian Knox has been designing road and trail systems that provide access while protecting the overall forest system for more than two decades.
In a balanced system, nature does a far better job of regenerating forests than humans can. Natural regeneration of hardwood stands is by far the best way to insure strong healthy forest for the future. However, for this to succeed after two hundred years of human interaction, we must now preserve the genetic integrity of forest stands, control invasive plants, and protect new seedlings from overabundant wildlife.
The same is true for unused open lands. In the past, abandoned agricultural property reverted back to native forest vegetation fairly quickly. Today, however, invasive plant species coupled with overabundant wildlife have created the need for artificial (manual) reforestation. By planting the appropriate forest species and protecting them from wildlife browsing, we can insure that diverse forests are established for the future.
By the late 1800's, there were fewer than 500 deer in the state of Pennsylvania, and deer were considered all but extinct in Maryland. Today, there are an estimated 1.6 million in Pennsylvania alone. Since a full-grown deer will consume about ten pounds of twigs per day, Pennsylvania loses 8,000 tons per day-enough to fill 320 tractor trailers.
In order to reach the objective of sustainable forest vegetation, the impact of deer and other wildlife must be considered. SRM uses wildlife impact assessments, deer density studies, and deer fencing to address the growing influence of wildlife on our forestlands.
CFI monitors a forest over time in order to track growth. Specific inventory points allow the same trees to be repeatedly measured. Individual tree growth, mortality, in-growth (new trees), and the effects of wildlife can all be monitored. Common intervals are 1, 2, 5, and 10 years.
Most states have strong laws protecting landowners from willful, negligent, reckless, wrongful, or malicious pilferage of merchantable trees and timber. Yet it can and does happen. SRM handles many aspects of timber trespass cases, including establishing timber volume and value, evaluating land disturbance, mediating between opposing parties, creating professional reports, and acting as an expert witness. (Note: Establishing and maintaining a well-marked boundary line before a trespass happens is one way to help prevent the frustration and conflict that can arise through a timber trespass. See Boundary Line Work above.)
Issues related to forestlands come in many forms, including timber trespass, contract or boundary line disputes, land disturbance issues, and more. Brian Knox brings extensive experience working with both the forest industry and the environmental community to the mediation table. This rare combination of expertise and insight allows him to effectively bridge the gap between opposing sides.
Forest product operators today are under tremendous pressure to meet the demands of rising fuel costs, environmental regulation, workers compensation costs, forest fragmentation, development and more. In order to maintain a competitive edge (or simply stay in business), operators need to continuously hone their skills and knowledge. SRM is the Mid-Atlantic and Southern Regional Coordinator for the Hardwood Value Improvement Project as well as offering workshops in Environmental Logging, Crop Tree Release, and Sustainable Silviculture to forest operators interested in developing sustainable forestry practices. As more and more landowners insist upon sustainable forestry, those trained to expertly care for the forest even as they harvest it will be in high demand.