Hardwood Management

Hardwood trees, also called deciduous trees, are those that lose their leaves every year. In Virginia, nearly 80% of forests, or 12.6 million acres, are in hardwood or mixed hardwood-pine forests. A wide variety of native hardwood trees grow in Virginia, with nearly 100 different species present. Oak, hickory, yellow-poplar, maple, walnut, elm, ash, and dogwood are but a few of the species found in the Commonwealth. Hardwoods are important and prized for many reasons. They provide a valuable timber resource for landowners due to the strong and diverse industry in Virginia. Examples of hardwood forest products include furniture, flooring, cabinets, pallets, railroad ties, barrels, and fine paper. Hardwood trees are highly important to wildlife for food (nuts, acorns, and tender shoots), and for shelter and nesting habitat. They also play a critical role in protecting watersheds by filtering water, providing clean air, filtering out pollutants, and capturing and storing large amounts of carbon. Whether light green in the early spring, or brilliantly colored in the fall, hardwoods provide outstanding scenic views and outdoor recreation for which Virginia is famous.

Forest management is the skillful use of practices or treatments to accomplish a desired purpose or end. Good management helps to achieve the many benefits that hardwood forests can provide. Because of the large variety of trees with differing characteristics, management of hardwood forests can be complex. Also, hardwood forests, in general, grow and mature more slowly than pine forests. Because of these factors, it is very important for landowners to learn about their forests first, and then carefully plan before taking action. Professional foresters, trained in the science and art of managing forests (silviculture), can guide landowners in planning and applying practices that will meet landowner’s objectives and assure healthy, productive forests for the future.

Virginia Department of Forestry leads Virginia’s Hardwood Management Initiative to improve hardwood management and ensure continued supply into the future.

Additional Resources

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Hardwood Planting Guide
Hardwood Planting GuideP00137

Brochure illustrates and explains proper planting techniques for planting bare-root hardwood seedlings. Printed copies available.

Seedling Price Guide
Seedling Price GuideP00139

Brochure provides a simple listing of seedling species available for sale at our state Nurseries and current pricing. For more detailed species information, see our Web Store. Customers can order on-line at our Web Store or by mail with the included order form. Printed copies available.

VDOF Hardwood Sustainablity Strategy
VDOF Hardwood Sustainablity Strategy

Summary document of VDOF’s hardwood sustainability strategy, including a description of hardwood resources, concerns and issues, and strategies.