ATFS Standard #6: Forest Aesthetics

The next stop in our look at the American Tree Farm Systems’ Standards of Sustainability brings us to Standard #6 Forest Aesthetics. Standard #6 recommends that forest management activities recognize the value of forest aesthetics and these values should be included during management planning.

Forest aesthetics deals with how the forest looks to landowners, neighbors, foresters, and the general public. This standard comes into play mainly when logging is performed on a property. Logging and other management activities on your property can cause aesthetic concerns such as slash on the ground, ruts, clear cuts, and broken or bent trees. Although some of these are temporary, logging alters the appearance of a forest which can be off-putting to people. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but to many any logging operation, “looks bad.” Logging is generally messy to the casual observer, but there are ways in which logging or other forms of management may be made less so.

Some recommendations for aesthetically pleasing forest management involve the time of year management is done. Logging and other management projects may be better to be done in the winter because the frozen ground and snow cover leads to less soil disturbance. Road building is better when done in a dryer time of the year leading to cleaner looking project. Other recommendations refer to how management should be conducted. Some examples include placing landings out of public view, inputting a bend or turn in the entrance road to block view of the harvest, and closing and revegetating a logging road with wildlife-friendly plants after a project is completed. These steps and more can make a project look better and help prevent issues involving forest aesthetics.

However, some of those recommendations imply that the public should be offended by viewing a log landing, or a harvest, at all. Instead, one of the most effective ways to address concerns regarding forest aesthetics, is educating landowners, who in turn may educate their neighbors or others on the logging process. It is an important part of any logging operation, or management activity to review the potential work, as well as expectations of how a harvest may look during and after its completion. Visiting logging operations with permission of other landowners and loggers, during the operation and after it is complete, as well as visiting one that was completed years before, may help a landowner and others understand forest aesthetics, and realistic expectations of logging operations.

Below are some resources that provide further explanation and recommendations regarding forest aesthetics for your property:

 University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension’s Good Forestry in the Granite State:

 Voluntary Harvesting Guidelines for LANDOWNERS IN VERMONT. Chapter 2:

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