URBANA, Ill. – There comes a time when every forest landowner gets a knock on their door. Someone wants to buy their timber on a handshake deal.
“I get calls from landowners looking for information on the harvesting process and rates,” says Duane Friend, University of Illinois Extension Energy and Environmental Stewardship Educator. “But by that time harvesting has already started and it’s too late to help.”
A landowner may only sell timber once or twice in their lifetime. Knowing in advance what the timber is worth and what should and should not be harvested puts the landowner in a much better position.
Extension Forestry specialist Chris Evans says a lot of Illinois timber is sold for a fraction of its true value.
“I usually recommend landowners reach out to a professional forester to work with,” Evans says. “There is a lot of thought and planning that should go into a harvest, especially in terms of the larger, long-term sustainable management of that forest.”
A consultant forester acts on the landowner’s behalf and facilitates all the steps of a timber harvest. After the timber is sold, a portion of the proceeds go to the forester.
As part of the process, the forester will survey the land and determine if the timing is right.
“Not all woods are ready to cut and the timing of a timber harvest can influence the income the landowner receives and the turnaround time for the next harvest,” Evans says.
The consultant will also ensure the harvest is done in a healthy manner as part of a larger, sustainable management plan and they will market the timber to multiple buyers to maximize profit.
There are plenty of responsible loggers and timber buyers in Illinois, but it is still to the landowner’s advantage to have a forestry expert representing their interest and helping to navigate the process.
“A recent study found that landowners who worked with a consultant had sale prices 78% higher than landowners who didn’t,” Evans says. “That can be a difference of thousands of dollars.”
Illinois Extension Forestry has a list of forester consultants available at go.illinois.edu/ConsultingForesters. The Illinois Department of Naturalist Resources also has timber selling resources at www2.illinois.gov/dnr/conservation/Forestry/Pages/SellingTimber.aspx. For more information on forest management, visit Extension’s forestry website at extension.illinois.edu/forestry.
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