Although this blog is generally geared towards the sustainable management of private forests/woodlands in the Northeast, this recent article on how private forests are managed in other countries caught my attention.  I think it offers some interesting perspectives on the utilization of these forests, all of which support societal needs and typically at some cost to the owner.  For example:

  • Shade is the most desired commodity produced by forests in countries such as China, Ethopia, and Zambia for understory production by shade-obligate plants and products such as coffee, mushrooms, and medicinal herbs.
  • Honey from forest bees ranks higher as a product than lumber in Ethopia
  • Forestry is a major player in Germany where forestry is the largest employment sector and second largest economic segment

I am not suggesting that private woodland owners in the US are doing anything wrong in their management goals, just an interesting reflection on private woodlands worldwide.  The article highlighted the importance of private property rights and the multiple values that originate from private woodlands. 

In the US, NY in particular, the question of "most valued woodland commodity" might be a bit harder to pin down, depending on how the question is framed.  Most social science research has asked owners to identify their objectives, presumably this relates to the commodities produced, and owners consistently identify non-tangible values of their woods such as privacy, recreation, and family legacy.  As private parcel size increases, the values shift towards tangible outputs and those that have some economic value.

Woodland owners in NY who wish to explore the options available for a varied range of commodities, might consider a visit by a peer woodland owner volunteer or a NYS DEC public service forester.  Other states have similar program offerings, check with your local office of Cooperative Extension.

Picture: Landowner working with a forester.

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