Natural Forest Stewardship

To reduce forest stewardship to its barest essentials, all you need is a piece of land.

| October/November 2004

In 1972, I knew nothing about farming; I was just a small businessman from Chicago with no spare time. But, I ended up buying a farm in Richland County, Wis., from a friend, and tried raising cattle on the land, then bees. But these didn’t suit me. So, when the county forester proposed that I start a tree farm, I was ecstatic. Over the next 20 years, I learned by experience the joys — and work — of creating a forest. My ideas of forest management are based on using it as a long-term investment strategy and a way to have fun.

To reduce forest stewardship to its barest essentials, all you need is a piece of land. Let’s say you have a half-acre of land in a part of the country where trees grow. In a matter of a few decades, the land will revert to forest if you leave it alone. But if you have an acre of land, or more, you can speed the forestation process along. And, not much is required: Gather seeds, disturb the earth — dig it, rototill it, plow it — and sow away. You needn’t feel you don’t have the time, the money or the know-how to create a woodland for your own enjoyment. It’s an avocation that suits any schedule, fortune or inclination.

Before you start, think about these “10 Commandments,” things I’ve learned that have made owning a woodland a rewarding experience:

10 Commandments for Owners of Small Woodlands


Your woodland should be a source of pleasure and joy. Sounds, animal activity and interesting vegetation are everywhere. Let nothing interfere with the enjoyment of your forest.

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