Our Forest Management Services

Foresters with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) offer services to forest landowners. We can provide advice and guidance when you want to sell timber from your property, conserve the property for future generations or develop wildlife habitat.

if you want to reforest an area or implement other management practices, we'll tell you which consultants, industry or contractors can implement the recommended practices. We can also let you know if “cost share” assistance is available. The VDOF administers and give technical approval for cost-share programs.

Forest Stewardship (Management) Plan

The first step toward a healthy, productive woodland is a Forest Stewardship or Management Plan. Forestry consultants and VDOF foresters are available to provide these plans. We charge a fee for this service.

Proper land stewardship is the focus of the plan. To maximize the benefits of forest ownership, the management plan should be established prior to timber harvesting.

Each plan:

  • is an inventory of all the natural resources on your property: trees (species composition, age, merchantability, growth rate), wildlife habitat, etc.
  • considers multiple uses of the total forest resource - wWildlife habitat development, aesthetics and recreation. Multiple uses can often be accomplished in harmony with timber production.
  • recommends methods to protect water quality and sensitive natural areas.
  • includes a map with the locations of the various timber types, land uses and natural features (creeks, streams, rock formations).

Timber Sales

Most landowners sell timber without professional advice. Studies show that landowners receive 50 percent more for their timber if they sell with the assistance of a professional forester.

You may only sell timber a few times and we can help you navigate all the steps in the process. Our timber sale assistance includes:

  • educating you about the different ways to sell your timber
  • recommending that you have a timber sale contract (to protect you and all parties involved)
  • suggesting items to be included in the timber sale contract
  • providing you lists of consulting foresters
    • consulting foresters can determine the value of the timber and conduct the timber sale
  • providing you lists of timber buyers.

Assistance also includes recommendations such as:

  • thinning immature stands for pulpwood or fuelwood
    • to improve the quality and value of the future stand;
    • to reduce risk of insect and disease infestations;
    • provide early financial returns.
  • clearcutting mature timber in need of regeneration.
  • cutting timber subject to the Seed Tree Law.
    • Where loblolly or white pine trees comprise more than 10 percent of the stand, the landowner has the option of leaving seed trees, clearcutting and planting pine seedlings or converting the land to agriculture or development.

For additional information on Selling Timber

Hardwood Regeneration Assistance

After hardwood trees are harvested, new hardwood trees regenerate prolifically from new seedlings and sprouts from the roots and stumps of harvested trees.

VDOF foresters will examine hardwood stands to determine:

  • the potential for quality hardwood growth,
  • species mix most likely to occupy the site following harvest,
  • cutting practices needed to obtain the desired natural hardwood regeneration.

Pine Regeneration Assistance

Low quality hardwood sites, open fields including steep, erosive farm land and harvested pine sites are generally recommended for conversion to pine plantations.

We sell loblolly and white pine seedlings that are genetically improved and produce trees with excellent growth and form characteristics. Private contractors plant trees, and we monitor planting quality and check seedling survival to ensure a successful plantation. VDOF also sells trees and shrub species to enhance wildlife habitat in and around pine plantations.

Follow-up examinations of the plantations occur 1 to 2 years after planting:

  • examine seedling viability,
  • inspect site to see if hardwood brush is crowding out the pine seedlings and stunting their growth,
    • a herbicide, either by ground or aerial application, may be recommended to suppress hardwood brush competition.

Planting Site Preparation

Often, a site must have some work done to it before a successful tree planting can take place. Reducing competing vegetation or logging residue are two examples of what might be necessary prior to planting.

Our foresters will examine the site and determine the amount and intensity of preparation needed.

Prescribed burning is usually the most effective and economical method of preparing freshly cutover sites. Making piles of logging debris with a bulldozer or applying herbicide to competing vegetation can be used in smoke sensitive areas.

We assist you in in finding and hiring crews and equipment contractors to perform site preparation.

Insects and Diseases

Significant timber mortality can result from various insect and disease infestations. Foresters monitor the forest health through ground and aerial observation. To combat forest pests, the VDOF:

  • conducts aerial and ground surveys to locate, monitor and identify pest populations,
  • provides insect and disease control information to help landowners protect their timberlands.

When problems such as bark beetles, gypsy moth and ice storms damage trees, landowner can get advice and referrals to timber buyers or consultant foresters. More Insect and Disease information

Water Quality Protection

Managing soil erosion during a timber harvest is a top priority in forest management to protect water quality. Best Management Practices (BMPs) have been developed to help control soil erosion.

We recommend BMPs to loggers and landowners during preharvest planning. Examples of BMPs include:

  • proper log road layout;
  • wetlands protection
  • having buffer areas of undisturbed timber beside streams.

The VDOF, forest industry and consultant foresters work together to monitor harvest operations to encourage:

  • proper stream crossings,
  • installation of water diversion divices,
  • seeding of log roads in grass cover
  • maintenance of streamside forest.

The VDOF inspects harvesting sites for compliance with the following laws:

  • Seed Tree Law
  • Silvicultural Water Quality Law.
  • Chesapeake Bay Act,
  • Virginia Marine Resources Law(s),
  • Federal Clean Water Act(s) including wetlands regulations.

Compliance with other state and federal laws and regulations is also inspected. The landowner and logger are informed so they can be kept in compliance with these regulations. The logger, consultant forester, industry forester, and/or the landowner are contacted during logging operations concerning BMP installation. The landowner is contacted concerning needs for forest renewal and future management.

Last reviewed/updated: Thursday, 06-Nov-2014 10:36:22 EST