(BPT) - Smart investors know a diversified portfolio is the best way to weather any storm. Considering the volatility of the current stock market, the desire for better options has never been greater. Rather than gamble on the next buzzworthy stock or bond and hope it lives up to expectations, there’s an alternative that’s gaining traction: land ownership.
While stocks and funds depend highly on market swings, forestland requires only sun and rain to provide asset growth. However, the key to maximizing financial and recreational returns depends on proper management—and that requires more than just Mother Nature.
Knowing how to manage a large piece of land can be overwhelming to a new investor or a person who may have inherited land from family. It's important to consider the investment potential. Some common questions include:
* Should you harvest any timber? From what areas?
* When should you plant trees?
* How should you manage the vegetation and handle invasive species?
* How can you protect the wildlife?
Just as hiring a financial advisor is smart to manage an investment portfolio, hiring an expert to assist in answering questions and managing a land investment is also highly advisable. Independent consulting foresters are experts that offer scientific applications as well as business acumen to landowners. Foresters offer broad-based knowledge about the characteristics of forest land, relevant economics of private timberland management and sensitivity to the full scope of issues important to private forest landowners. In addition, an independent professional land management team comprised of not only consulting foresters, but also wildlife biologists is important. This expanded capacity of the consulting professional is essential for successful private forest management.
So how does the land management process work? According to one leading consulting forester firm that utilizes both forestry and biology expertise, Bird & Crawford Forestry, there are three basic steps to proper forestland management. Following these steps will help ensure the landowner is maximizing his or her investment long-term.
1. The first step is to gain knowledge of the existing and/or potential natural resources on the property. This includes knowing what resources are on the land, how they are located in relation to land features and what resources are worth preserving. Bird & Crawford Forestry is one group that utilizes wildlife biologists along with professional foresters to survey the land in person to map the property and determine resource assets from a financial as well as a recreational standpoint.
2. Once what actually exists on a property is determined, the next step is to establish goals for the property. Because every landowner/investor is unique, goals can vary greatly. For instance, if the land is inherited, the goal may be focused upon protecting family assets to confidently keep a family legacy intact for generations to come. Upon identifying goals, an overall management strategy can be developed.
3. Finally, professional foresters will develop the plan of forest and wildlife management activities required to achieve the owner’s goals. This might include a planting and harvesting schedule, wildlife management and conservation efforts, and even hunting lease management.
Beyond the bottom line of profit potential, land ownership gives investors something that is tangible, a good alternative to traditional investments and another option to round out your portfolio. Owning land is also a wonderful way to conserve and enjoy nature while leaving a lasting legacy to family and future generations. Working with experts familiar with a breadth of land, from upland pine sites to bottomland ecosystems, provides peace of mind for maximizing the land’s value. Learn more about forest and land management at www.birdandcrawford.com.