1. Preliminary Goal Setting - Think about what you want to do with your forest. Ask yourself some questions. How do you use your parcel? Do you hunt? Is timber sale income important? Do you want some walking trails? After you’ve explored your thoughts and listed some goals try to rank them in importance.
2. Resource Assessment – A forest inventory will generate statistical information on the tree populations and is the foundation for scientific management. While in the field your forester will make note of a variety of things - for example: the presence of invasive species, any disease or insect problems, or areas that would benefit from tree planting.
3. Refine Goals - This brings your preliminary goals together with what is in your forest. Some of your preliminary goals may not be feasible based on the make-up of your woods. Usually, a few management options are generated as you work with your forester. Using all the available information and your preferences, you decide which option best fits.
4. Plan Writing - The written document is the record of your intentions. The written plan will include a wealth of information on the forest inventory results, soil types, feasible options, recommended actions, and some rough scheduling targets.
5. Action - This puts your chosen options into action on the ground. Actions can be wide ranging, for example: tree planting, harvesting of some degree, exotic or invasive species control, or creating and improving wildlife habitat. Proper planning for the actions might involve a fair amount of field work. Trees to remove or keep may have to be identified and marked. Areas at high risk of soil erosion may have to be delimited, as would areas of weak soils.
6. Monitoring - This is a vital part of forest management that is too often forgotten or dismissed. Many times, there is a glitch of some kind in the action step. Weather sometimes does not cooperate, and actions must be re-scheduled. Contractor delays, difficult soils, and market fluctuations could also lead to modifying the planned actions. Always keep written records with your plan so you can refer to them later.
In a sense monitoring should never stop. Changes are always happening, and you have to react wisely to have a healthy forest going forward. Exotic or invasive insects, and diseases, can be devastating. You should try to know what is happening in your forest. Repeat all the steps as required.