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Lands and Forestry

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Forest Stewardship Principles

LESSON SEVEN - LANDOWNER OBJECTIVES

About 70 % of Nova Scotia is privately owned. Half of that is small private. As a result there is a tremendous forest resource on private lands in Nova Scotia. Numerous contractors and mills harvest wood or do silviculture on private lands. Many of us rely on private lands to supply us with work and revenue. It is important to remember who owns the land and to respect the landowner wishes when working on private land. If a contractor is disrespectful of the needs of landowners the local community and neighbors soon hear about it. As word spreads, the contractor may soon find there is nowhere to work.

That is why it is important to recognize the right of private landowners to manage according to their own objectives. It becomes necessary to determine what those objectives are implement them into the operation.

Actually determining landowner objectives may, at times, be difficult. Landowners may be vague about what they want or they may not be sure what kinds of benefits they can get form the land. Landowners may be reluctant to talk or don't want to show their lack of knowledge. Therefore it is important to make an effort to determine landowner objectives.

When meeting a landowner for the first time make sure the owners objectives are promptly identified. Being observed can help you identify the owners objectives. If you arrive at woodlot and find an old farm house the objectives might be different than if you find a cottage. Bird houses and feeders may indicate an interest in wildlife. A pile of firewood in the back indicates that the landowner may understand that products come from the forest and trees have to be cut to get them.

Once you are talking with the landowner it is important to ask questions. Ask lots of questions and make sure you listen to the answers. Some questions to ask might be:

  • what is the land currently used for?
  • how many people use the land?
  • how long have you had the property?
  • have you received any professional advice, management plan, etc.?
  • do you know any landowners that have had a similar operation to what I am proposing?
  • have you ever seen the proposed treatment?

Once you have determined the landowners objectives write them down. Use plain english and be specific. Try to tie the objectives to a result. For example if a landowner wants to improve the condition of the woodlot you can say "to improve the quality of timber through silvicultural thinning to release crop trees". Some contractors write the landowner objectives on the operations plan and get the landowner to sign it. This reduces confusion or unexpected problems later on.

At times you may find conflicts with landowners. This is not unexpected when dealing with people. In one instance a landowner wanted the contractor to cut the buffer he left along the stream. In another instance a landowner didn't realize the contractor was going to cut such a large area. All conflicts can not be avoided, but planning ahead and letting the landowner know your plans ahead of time will go along way to preventing conflicts.

Exercise 7. Landowner Objectives

1. Mr. Ready has indicated to you that he is retiring soon. He would like to get some money from the woodlot to build a camp along Trout Brook where he can spend his time fishing. Mr. Ready does not like to see large clearcuts and is concerned about capital gains if he gets too much money from the lot. Given these objectives what could you do with the current operations management plan to better meet these objectives?

Answers