How much land is required for a sustainable wood supply?

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richardg40

Member
Mar 11, 2013
23
How many acres do you own and how many cords of wood do you harvest every year from it . Is it sustainable ? I own a small 27 acres woodlot that has been cut down by previous owners that I believe over harvested wood from it . Plan to cut approx 5 cords a year on that land . Hope I don t run out .
 

sesmith

Feeling the Heat
Dec 11, 2009
278
Central NY
Not sure what you mean by cut down, but 27 acres should be plenty to supply 5 cords/year forever. That said, you may want to have your lot looked at by a forester. If the previous owner high graded it, they did a real disservice to the lot and it will take a lot to try to bring it back to anything worthwhile. So it will be important for you to know which trees should be cut and which one's shouldn't. Not sure where you live but the state foresters there might offer this service for free. If not, pay an independent consulting forester to give you some input on how you should approach this.
 

richardg40

Member
Mar 11, 2013
23
Not sure what you mean by cut down, but 27 acres should be plenty to supply 5 cords/year forever. That said, you may want to have your lot looked at by a forester. If the previous owner high graded it, they did a real disservice to the lot and it will take a lot to try to bring it back to anything worthwhile. So it will be important for you to know which trees should be cut and which one's shouldn't. Not sure where you live but the state foresters there might offer this service for free. If not, pay an independent consulting forester to give you some input on how you should approach this.
I have owned other woodlots before and going in I knew this lot wasn't t great but it came as a separate lot with the house ( about 1 mile apart ) On other good woodlots I sold the stumpage they harvested between 25 to 30 cords per acres . On this one I estimate to get between 1 and 2 cords per acres . So as it stands today there might be 12 years worth of wood . Its mixed hard wood and spruce / pine a bit of cedar too . I live in New Brunswick Canada .
 

sesmith

Feeling the Heat
Dec 11, 2009
278
Central NY
So a much different mix than what I'm used to here in the northeast, I would still run your questions by a local forester that knows your area.
 

ohlongarmisle

New Member
Sep 28, 2022
12
Ohio
How many acres do you own and how many cords of wood do you harvest every year from it . Is it sustainable ? I own a small 27 acres woodlot that has been cut down by previous owners that I believe over harvested wood from it . Plan to cut approx 5 cords a year on that land . Hope I don t run out .
I have ten and have lived here quite awhile, just what I have could support me for decades, although I've never cut down one live tree, only dead or windfalls.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
7,517
NE Ohio
The old rule of thumb is that a well managed woodlot will yield about 1 cord per acre per year
 
How many acres do you own and how many cords of wood do you harvest every year from it . Is it sustainable ? I own a small 27 acres woodlot that has been cut down by previous owners that I believe over harvested wood from it . Plan to cut approx 5 cords a year on that land . Hope I don t run out .
Me: 5 acres of unmanaged mixed hardwood, 5 cords per year was not sustainable on dead or downed trees. You: should not have a problem.

"Once your woodland is a good-quality, uneven-aged stand, every harvest will generate firewood as well as sawlogs. Under proper management, you should be able to harvest half a cord per acre every year from a good-quality hardwood woodland.." , Hilts, S, and P. Mitchell. The Woodlot Management Handbook. Buffalo, NY : Firefly Books, 1999, p 136.

If you sacrifice timber harvest, figure eight 10 inch coniferous trees or six 10 inch deciduous trees to yield one standard cord. The trees you cut for firewood should be chosen on the basis of a thinning cut (Hilts, p91).
 
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clux

Member
Oct 8, 2020
93
Center of the universe
Depends on where your woodlot is located.
The number is going to be a lot bigger in Malta, Montana than in Rotan, Texas.
The number is going to be a lot bigger in Stanley, Idaho than Ravenna, Ohio.
 

Bobbob

Member
Jan 13, 2022
82
Transfer PA
I have 18 acres of woods that was harvested 20 years prior to our ownership and not properly managed after. I have harvested an average of 7 cords per year for 10 years. I first cut any fallen or dead and dying trees. After, I cut any unhealthy trees or trees growing crooked. I'm still in this process. Once they are harvested I plan on cutting trees down that are growing too close together. Not sure when I'll get to that, but I still have a long way to go. I'm pretty sure I could be harvesting twice as much if I really needed to and never run out.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,689
Northern NH
The fundamental problem is that a woods lifespan is 40 to 100 plus years. A typical landowner is probably looking at a time span of 20 or 30 years, so they may never see a sustainable harvest. A typical landowner does not understand what makes good sustainable woods versus woods that have been high graded or well managed. Its highly likely that unless someone inherits well managed property that has been managed for decades, they are playing catchup cleaning out the low grade trees of the wrong type, this is going to allow a much higher volume of wood to be removed for potentially decades. Unfortunately, a hack with a chainsaw is going to do more damage to the long term growth and value of the forest unless they bring in pro and that pro is a forester. In many areas there are landowner assistance programs through state or county foresters that can provide limited free services to small landowners. Spending a few hours with a forester is the best investment you can make.
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
659
Upstate NY
I’ve also heard between a 1/3 cord to a full cord per acre per year. Like mentioned above, depending on what you have.

Now with EAB, I’m getting a lot more than 1 cord per acre. Unfortunately

I inherited a piece of property that’s been in the family for around 150 years. It was last logged about 30 years ago. Seems the only species that took a big hit was cherry. So that’s one of the trees that I never cut down unless it’s already dead or down.

But it also involves giving young cherry trees a better chance to grow. Cutting down other small trees that are nearby to give them a better chance.

Some people go through and choose the trees they want to get rid of, and work with that. Others choose the trees they want to keep first, and then take out trees that will help the keepers survive and grow.
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
659
Upstate NY
Adding onto what peakbagger said, I have some trees that my dad and aunt planted 70 years ago on my property. They’re just now getting to the size that I could harvest them if I wanted to. It takes a long time, depending on the species...

I’ve been planting trees that my kids or grandkids could harvest.
 

Isaac Carlson

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2012
926
NW Wisconsin
The loggers around here rob the land and cut anything of value. I have seen half the landscape cleared in my life. It used to be woods for a half hour and now it's huge barren fields. They are clearing just down the road now.

My dad's place was logged about 20 years ago and they ruined it for generations. They took every good tree, tore up the ground, and left tops everywhere. I know ONE guy who logged sustainably when he was younger. He is now an old man and in poorer health, but he taught his son and grandson how to manage woods properly. It takes lifetimes to make a really nice woods that will give good wood all the time.

I preach this about hunting too. You take the worst and leave the best. Over time it will improve. If you take a best, it goes downhill fast. You see it with deer herds. We have been trying to keep does around to get a bigger herd,, but people shoot anything brown, especially if it is grown. I like how does taste, but you can't eat just does. I shoot younger bucks and yearlings when I can because it won't cripple the herd next year like taking a mature doe will.

It has become very difficult for me to find high quality timber when I need it. I've been needing/wanting to split up shakes for the house and I have not found a good shingle tree yet. They're all deformed leftovers from
'Logging".
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,703
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
We have similar issues with logging. There is no selective cutting here, it's all clearcut. The lumber mills then replant softwoods, some spruce bust mostly pine, and the OSB mill replants nothing and allow the aspen and poplars to regrow. We sometimes go from diverse forests of spruce, pine, birch, tamarck, black poplar and aspen, to mostly single species. Although the government is cracking down on that, our most diverse forests are in muskeg or the edge of them, at least some of this isn't allowed to be logged anymore.

What I've found is taking firewood trees kills so many smaller saplings when the large trees fall, and leave the entire fall zone devoid of trees for 10 more years. We don't have a "woodlot" we harvest on crown land, but our current spot is an acre or two of dead pine and spruce, over the last couple of years we've been working toward taking it all. The majority of the saplings are crushed in the process, but in 10 years after were done the area will be clear and available for all kinds of species to regrow. We know forsure some birch, willow, spruce and pine will regrow there, likely some polar will move back in too.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,689
Northern NH
A few by the ways

Some species require the soil to be torn up to reseed. White Pine is one of them. Foresters will intentionally tear up the top soil to get it to reseed in Pine.

Other northern species like Sugar Maple will not reseed if the area has worms in the ground. That means if its been farmed its unlikely that Sugar Maple will regenerate. Red Maple, and Oaks do not have that issue. Sugar Maples can be planted to grow in areas with worms if the soil it "sweet enough".

Unless someone is trying to do timberstand conversion like hardwood to softwood, it is rarely worth replanting trees, the limiting factor to restocking is sunlight. Open up the canopy and trees will move in. The problem is if the seedstock is poor, the stuff that moves in is going to be poor. Usually there are some good trees that appear, and the goal is to keep them and get rid of the rest.

There is a theoretical amount of annual growth on any woodlot, its tied mostly to hours of sunlight and soil conditions. If the woods are left alone, the annual growth will be spread around all the standing trees, if the woods are "pruned" on occasion the growth will be concentrated on fewer trees. The problem that can occur is getting the stand overly evenly aged so that when the trees get of commercial size there is nothing to move back in for several decades. That is fine if you want a park for the short term but at some point someone cashes out and then some future owner starts all over again.
 
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Isaac Carlson

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2012
926
NW Wisconsin
The problem is, people don't stay in one place very long. They buu land do whatever they want, and try to sell it for 2-3x the price. Around here, they buy some nice woods, log it, and then try to sell it. People don't want it now that it's a mess and it sits on the market until someone finally does buy it and clears what is left to build lots.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,689
Northern NH
My area is close enough to southern New England that folks like to come up on the weekends to go ATVing, local loggers keep an eye out when land with trees come up for sale usually not well advertised and they grab it and then log the land and then go through a realtor to resell it to a person from outside the area that doesnt realize that its going to be 30 plus years before the trees even start to grow back. In the meantime most of the surrounding area is woods so the wildlife moves in while the land is growing back. They assume they can turn around and resell it but the only market is another person from down south. The nice part is holding undeveloped land in NH is cheap due to something called Current Use.
 

j7art2

Feeling the Heat
Oct 9, 2014
463
Northern, MI
Completely depends on the wood lot, i agree. I have 4 acres and haven't cleaned it in about 5 years. This year I got 3 face cord of just dead and down from it and probably could have easily gotten 6-7 if I really pushed it but some of my stuff is either massive or somewhat hard to get to, and now it's hunting season.

Next year I'm planning on getting another 3 at minimum and don't expect to harm a single live tree in the process. It depends solely on your land, layout, etc. I don't believe I could self sustain given that half of my acreage is softwood, but I get enough dead and down to get my started every year.
 
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Montanalocal

Feeling the Heat
Dec 22, 2014
491
Helena MT
For sustainable logging, there is a thing called horse logging. It is a viable business. Below is some of the sites I found on just a quick search. I would think googling horse logging and your state could find people out there locally.

If horse logging could be its own thread, then by all means.






 
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