Sustainable Forestry: Principle Seven

Comply with Laws and Rules and Implement Applicable Guidelines in States Not Using a Regulatory Approach.

By Jim Finley, Professor, Penn State University

School Of Forest Resources

I fervently believe that most forest landowners want to act responsibly toward their forests. Sometimes, despite their best intentions, harvesting activities don’t work out as planned. In many states, forest management decisions are largely left to the owner’s discretion. Most forest management regulations relate to protecting the state’s water resources from the effects of erosion and sedimentation (E&S). However, in some places, you will find local ordinances that may restrict timber harvesting activities.

You also need to consider your state’s Clean Water Act and associated regulations, they may require every earth moving activity have an erosion and sedimentation (E&S) plan. Timber harvesting operations may require an Environmental Protection permit. In general, a forest owner should follow state guidelines for erosion control. Many states offer publications that provide clear detail on how to create an E&S plan, how to obtain general permits for stream crossings, and how to install control structures that will ensure properly done harvesting doesn’t adversely affect clean water. In addition, you may need to follow your state’s Best Management Practices (BMPs) guidelines.

Clearly this principle encourages you to follow guidelines. By extension, to do this successfully, you have to become knowledgeable in the use and implementation of practices relating to your management activities. If we are to manage forests successfully without imposing unnecessary restrictions, forest owners should ensure they have a voice in the decisions which may affect their care of their forests. Consider joining other forest owners as a member of a local or state forestry group where you can share knowledge and experiences and consider ways to cooperate with your neighbors and others to implement management practices that protect forest values and integrity.

Careful planning, understanding public concerns and values, as well as your own objectives, will allow the forestry community to have a voice at the table where policy and regulations are written. By following the seven principles we have covered, you can contribute significantly to extending working and healthy forests forward for the future generations to use and enjoy.


Remember, forests are more than just trees; they are an interactive community of plants, animals, soils, and water. As a forest owner you are more than just a guardian or investor; you are a steward who pursues personal goals to care for and use the forest today while sustaining long-term forest health and continuity.

Successful stewardship relies heavily upon the time and energy invested in planning. A stewardship plan is the best way to capture the full benefit of blending personal goals with stewardship principles:

Principle 1: Maintain or improve diverse plants, animals, and trees in the forest and landscape

Principle 2: Maintain and improve forest productive capacity including wildlife and aesthetics

Principle 3: Maintain or improve the health and vigor of the forest and its landscape/watershed

Principle 4: Improve soil and water resources

Principle 5: Manage forests for growth and energy storage

Principle 6: Manage for community, cultural, and economic benefits

Principle 7: Comply with laws and state Best Management Practices

Becoming a Good Steward

Forest stewardship is an ongoing, long-term and adaptive process; you learn from your actions, investments, and even inaction as each decision plays out on the land. The process, however, can be complex because many things affect forest health and vigor. The changes you witness may be subtle, intermittent, and difficult to gauge. Taking the time to consider what efforts, events, milestones, or accomplishments you might use to track your success can help focus your work and avoid surprises, as well as maximize satisfaction and returns on your investment.

If you have a written plan for your forest, take it down from the shelf from time to time to evaluate your progress toward its implementation. If you do not have a plan, consider writing one. To do this, contact your state forestry agency or Natural Resource Conservation Agency. Learn what you can about managing your forest well by becoming involved in a community of forest owners who also care about the land. Together, we can leave a legacy on the land that speaks to our love of forest.

People and businesses who are committed to our Sustainable Forestry projects:

Miller Son Tree Service in Tampa

4427 W Leila Ave
Tampa, FL 33616
(813) 579-1358