Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need a forest management plan if I don’t plan to cut timber?

It’s important to know what condition your forest is in.  Are there invasive species, erosion, or other forest health issues that need to be addressed, before they get worse?  Are there opportunities to improve your forest and help you meet other goals for recreation, wildlife, or carbon storage and make your forest more resilient to future forest health challenges like climate change? Proper management of any resource requires planning and a forest management plan will help you organize your goals and objectives.

Are plans expensive?

Prices will vary by the acreage of your forest and can be estimated with a quick phone call.  The cost of a Forest Stewardship Plan will pay for itself in just a few years of property tax savings through the NC Forestry Present Use Value (PUV) program, if you include sustainable timber management.  So this is an investment in your forest that will pay off both economically and ecologically.  You will get a clear picture of the different types of forest you have and their condition, and, moreover, how you can leave your forest better than you got it.

How can cutting trees be beneficial for a forest?

Oak is a good example, it needs disturbance (e.g. timber harvesting in absence of natural disturbances which are not happening at historic rates in our middle aged forests) to allow in more sun to regenerate in most current forests.  But also for many old fields that were planted into white pine, which needs to be thinned and “managed”, or came up all yellow poplar, these are far less diverse, and, therefore, healthy than they could be. So by harvesting some of these very common trees we can help create more diverse forests both in species composition and structure (by creating more underrepresented young forest through harvesting).

Why are invasive plants problematic for forests?

Without any action to control them, invasives will get worse and do even greater damage to forests.  In the case of oriental bittersweet or kudzu, when it gets bad enough it will literally kill mature trees and destroy native forests.  Other plants (e.g. multiflora rose, privet) can completely take over the growing space in the understory greatly reducing native tree regeneration; and the non-native, highly invasive tree-of-heaven can completely take over and dominate even the overstory.

What if I just want to learn more about my forest?

A forest stewardship plan is a comprehensive way to learn about your forest, maps your forest, and provides a strategy to improve all its values.  We are also happy to consult with forest landowners large and small to give them a better sense of their forest and what they can do to have a positive impact on it.  We can address whatever specific questions a landowner has or just provide a basic ecological assessment of the forest.

I have a plan now, but don’t know where to start?

The best way is to consult with us and let us help prioritize the actions that need to happen first.  For instance people often call wanting to do a timber harvest but don’t realize they have invasive plants that must be controlled first.  We can help you sort through what your forest needs, and what other options there are to improve it as well.

What sets EcoForesters apart from any other private for-profit consulting forestry business?

EcoForesters is wholly different from a private for-profit consulting foresters. We are totally mission driven, and that mission is to conserve and restore ecological resilience to our Appalachian forests. Commercial forestry is generally directed towards obtaining the maximum profit for a client. The contrasts (as well as the need for EcoForesters), can be seen by viewing the website for the Association of Consulting Foresters, which is the trade organization for commercial foresters. As the representative of commercial foresters, that organization emphasizes capitalism and free enterprise as the guiding principles for commercial forestry. EcoForesters emphasizes the public good and will not compromise its principles. Our activities may appear similar, but commercial foresters generally make recommendations based on a course of action which yields the most profit for the landowner, while EcoForesters will recommend a course of action which will most effectively conserve and restore the forest for current and future generations. 

EcoForesters, charges a fee for its services, which is computed to be slightly above cost. However, the standard business practice for commercial foresters is to charge clients on a commission basis. This commission would be a percentage of the revenue received by the landowner from the sale of timber, which encourages the commercial forester to recommend the destruction of ‘high value’ trees because of their value as lumber producers. This can set up a conflict of interest between the forester and the landowner if the landowner’s sole motivation is not profiting from their timber. EcoForesters, always makes its recommendations based on the values stated in its mission. 

The ACF website states as its current policy that it “believes that free aid, or subsidized aid, advice, guidance, and/or service to owners of an economically viable forest property is not in the public interest.” The objective of EcoForesters, is to provide such guidance and service at cost, and eventually below cost or at no cost for some of our services. Positive impact forestry frequently requires actions, such as invasive species control and timber stand improvement, which provide a significant benefit to the forest and society, but are not affordable for individual landowners. 

Unlike commercial consulting foresters, EcoForesters has an educational mission. We utilize our expertise and stewardship plans as an educational tool for landowners and the general public as to the importance of responsible proactive stewardship. We engage students to help develop and implement these plans to further our educational mission. And we collaborate on scientific research with other non-profits, government entities, and educational institutions to monitor natural resource change, further our understanding of sound resource management, and implement the best known methods using the most current science. 

Lastly, EcoForesters works to implement positive impact forestry strategically and at a landscape scale. We partner and build collaborative efforts with conservation organizations, educational institutions, government agencies and natural resource professionals that share our mission and vision. It is these strategic and collaborative efforts that will allow us to restore the ecological health and resilience of forests at a landscape scale. Unlike a for-profit business, it is our function as a mission driven non-profit to divert resources toward working in this strategic capacity, and thereby have the greatest positive impact on the forest at a landscape scale.