The Benefits of a Forest Stewardship Plan

A steward, by definition, is one who manages . . . or who acts as a caretaker. [1]

By developing and implementing a forest stewardship plan, you agree to follow guidelines established by government for stewardship of your forested land. (See U.S. Forest Service..) The benefits of doing so are many and may be considered in three main categories. The first category includes the benefits to you, the landowner, now land steward. The second category includes the benefits to the community. The third includes the benefits which accrue to the future.

Rather than listing all the many ways in which you will benefit, we will consider just a few with links to more detailed information on each, and we recommend that you also read Developing a Forest Stewardship Plan: The Key to Forest Management.

In addition to helping you define your desires and objectives for your property, to become better acquainted with it, and giving you a timeline for implementing your objectives, becoming a forest stewardship cooperator gives you very tangible benefits. 1) There are programs to offer technical and financial assistance, and you become eligible for cost-sharing programs to help you meet your objectives. 2) There are state income tax deductions related to some of the costs you may incur. 3) There may be a change in the way your land is assessed which may lower your property taxes.

In Maryland, 90% of the forest land . . . is owned by . . . individual private landowners. Most of these forest lands are unmanaged. With good stewardship management, these forest lands could better provide [our] needs for clean water and air, healthy thriving populations of fish and wildlife, the maintenance of rare plants and animals, quality outdoor recreational experiences, and forest products. Good stewardship contributes to the natural beauty, guards against soil erosion and depletion of soil productivity, and protects wetlands. Good stewardship also helps to protect forests from insects, diseases, wildfire, overgrazing, and poor resource management. [1] By adding to the health of your land and all the plants, animals and other organisms which live there with you, you add to the well-being of your neighbors, your local community, the country, and the earth as a whole.

Everything we do has consequences. By becoming stewards of our land, we choose to take actions that will have positive consequences. As we use, improve, and care for our forest lands, nature will be busy adding to our efforts, yielding ever-greater rewards as the years go by. A tiny seedling planted today may, with luck and care, become a Big Tree Champion Our efforts today will bring benefits in the future to those specific individuals who follow us in the use and care of our lands, to their neighbors, their community, and their world.

1. Maryland Forest Stewardship Program Purpose Statement.

A conservation planting & view of South Mountain State Park

A lightly managed nnatural reforestation of a field.