Free Silviculture

Free Silviculture

Value of Your Low-Grade Timber

If I mark 100 Mbf and if I get paid $24 per Mbf for marking, tallying, sales and supervision, then my total fee is $2,400 for the sale.  But if 40% of the total volume is low-grade timber that high-graders wouldn't take, and that 40 Mbf is worth $60 per Mbf, then that low-grade timber is worth $2,400--the same as my total fee for the sale.  So in effect, my fee for the 60 Mbf of grade timber in this hypothetical sale would be $0. 

In such a situation, you would get your grade timber marked, tallied, sold and supervised for free.  You would also get your residual grade crop trees released from competition with their low-grade neighbors--so they would grow much faster.  And you would get a clean logging job with minimal damage to residual trees and forest soils. 

Value to You of Competitive Bidding

It's also quite likely that you would get more money for the total sale thanks to the competitive bidding process. An analysis for my timber sales in a recent year showed that on average, winning bids were 19% higher than median bids.  This 19% was slightly above my average cost for marking, tallying, selling and supervising these sales.

In two cases where landowners had called me after receiving lump-sum proposals from local loggers during that same year, their net returns were in the range of 40-80% higher than the loggers' proposals.  In fairness, if those sales had been on an honest pay-as-cut basis, the difference may not have been so great.  But it's still likely that there would be considerable value in low-grade material left out in the woods.

You may have heard from some loggers and sawmills that you're throwing your money away by hiring a consulting forester to handle your timber sale.  This may be their opinion, but it is very far from the reality of the situation.  There is considerable value in good silviculture in the short-term due to marketing of low-grade material, and in the long-term due to increased growth rates on residual trees.  There is also considerable value in effective marketing of timber through the competitive bid process.

Value to Loggers and Lumber Companies

One aspect of the services of consulting foresters that loggers and lumber companies have actually come to appreciate in recent years is all the planning and paperwork that are required now for compliance with the Forest Cutting Practices Law.  Many loggers and lumber companies now hire consultants to do this work for them.  

Another aspect they appreciate is notifying abutters and explaining the planned cutting operation to them.  This can be a difficult task in those cases where abutters and neighbors have come to expect the worst from cutting operations.  The presence of a consulting forester on the job can greatly reduce potential opposition to cutting operations.

Yet another factor is that marking in advance of cutting eliminates the time required in selecting trees by the logger.  If you've ever tried to make selections with a chainsaw in your hands, you know how hard this is.  Advance layout of access roads, planning of stream crossings, and location of log landings save loggers additional time and money.

For all these reasons, many loggers and lumber companies have come to realize that the services of experienced consulting foresters allow them to perform their work with greater efficiency and less interference.  So while they may pay more for the timber they obtain through these consultants, those extra costs are offset by savings in planning and execution of timber purchases.