Steps always need to be taken to protect land and timber value. The biggest threats are to the land from erosion, to the timber from mortality, and to the investment from theft, regulations, and encroachment. Here are some of the steps we take to reduce risk:
Roads provide the biggest opportunity for erosion, but a well designed road system provides the best opportunity to permanently solve the problem. We excel at road design and work with some of the best contractors in the business to get them put in.
Timber dies, and when it does it takes its value with it. Mortality usually comes from insects, fire and natural causes.
Insects can be controlled by planting good quality trees and keeping the stand healthy. Thinning stands to take out the weakest trees is one of the best tools available.
Surprisingly, fire in the southeast does not pose a large risk, although there are certain areas that are in more jeopardy than others. In high risk zones, permanent fire breaks can be established and maintained to reduce the threat. Good relations with neighbors and a good hunting club help as well.
Finally, trees are like every other living organism. They have life cycles; they can get sick, get a disease or simply get old. The key is to identify the trees and stands at greatest risk and adjust harvesting schedules accordingly.
Mortality can not always be avoided, and occasionally there may come a time when the precautions aren’t enough and trees do die before “their time”. In such cases we move fast to salvage the timber before it can lose value.
Theft, Regulations and Encroachments
If you have something of value, it is not long before someone tries to take it.
Timber theft can occur by either someone harvesting timber without the landowner’s knowledge, or by the landowner selling timber but not being compensated for all that is cut. Regular inspections of property and good relations with neighbors and hunting clubs goes a long way toward reducing outright theft. So does regular maintenance of boundary lines. If you are selling by the ton, knowing timber volumes, having a comprehensive contract, having regular inspections, and knowing the players in the market goes a long way to insure full compensation for timber being cut.
Land theft is a little more subtle, but the threat is just as real. The most common tools used are legal challenges, backed by suspect affidavits, appraisals and depositions. This is not to be confused with true land disputes in which the court is asked to resolve real conflicts. These are opportunistic and orchestrated attempts to use legal avenues to create conflict and obtain land. Most properties are not at risk, but identifying those that are, researching their history and keeping good records is an excellent way to lower the threat.
Encroachments occur when someone’s use of a piece of property creates a claim against the ownership. Regular inspections, both from the ground and the air, and proper boundary maintenance are usually sufficient to identifying encroachments. Once they have been found, they have to be challenged and resolved or risk the land being possessed adversely.