Getting to Know Your Forest
The benefits of a healthy forest are immeasurable. A healthy forest provides for the landowner and also contributes to an overall healthy ecology.
A good way to fully appreciate your property is to walk the land. Observe your property like you’re looking at it for the first time.
When walking your property, focus on the natural components that contribute to its distinct and unique features:
It's much easier to understand what makes a forest healthy, if you look at its interconnected parts. As you walk your land you can use some simple tools to help you collect records of what you find.
Your land has gone through many changes over the past century. Both natural and human disturbances have altered the look and composition of your forest's landscape. Recent disturbances may be easy to spot, but disturbances that happened many years ago may leave more subtle clues.
At the bottom of this page is an excerpt from a forest journal. It chronicles past practices and the reason for each action. If you recently purchased your property, you may want to talk with neighbors, the original property owners, local historians or the local Division of Conservation staff or local Division of Forestry foresters to obtain some of this information. Written records like the back issues of local newspapers, old photographs and property deeds may also include helpful facts. Even if you can’t locate records of past events, you may be able to determine past events by observing features throughout your property.
Identifying natural disturbances may require more detective work. Sometimes it is difficult, even for natural resource professionals, to identify past natural disturbances. Remember, your aim is simply to piece together an overall picture. Individual details are important but not critical.
Below is an example of a forest journal created for a tract of privately owned forestland. Use this example to create your own forest land use history, a document that will be appreciated by all who inherit the responsibility of caring for the forest.
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