What Kind Of Services In Your Woods Need A Contract?

Any agreement that has the potential to impact your land in a significant way should be written up as a contract. Your land, trees, wildlife and waterways are precious and the protection of them should not be left to chance. There are many situations where a written contract may be advisable, but here we’ll outline a few of the most common. 

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Hiring a Forester

A consulting forester can be a great asset to your woodland­–to help you with a particular management task, to help you create a management plan, or to be a long-term source of guidance. A good forester can contribute knowledge it would take decades for you to find on your own, and can help you employ that knowledge for the benefit of your woodland. But the relationship you have with a forester can be a complex one, and a contract that defines your expectations and needs can help maximize your collaboration with a forester.   The contract should be tailored to your needs as a woodland owner, but some possible provisions include:

  •  Location and description of the property
  • Description of services
  • A time frame for the relationship
  • Responsibility for determining property boundaries
  • An outline of compensation with amounts and a schedule of payments.

Timber Sales

Selling timber is a complicated transaction and it may happen only once or twice in your lifetime, but timber sales can have long-term consequences for your land. Having a written contract will help reduce misunderstandings, avoid disagreements and help protect your woodland from damaging forest practices. Some states mandate written contracts for timber sales.

As a legally binding agreement, if it is well thought out, a timber contract can protect both the seller and the buyer by laying out both parties’ expectations, responsibilities and liabilities. The agreement doesn’t have to be long, but it should include these important elements:

  • A description of the timber to be sold with an estimate of the volume, number of trees and species–including a description of which trees are not to be cut
  • The selling price and terms of payment
  • The location and boundaries of the logging
  • Any ecological concerns or expectations
  • A timeline
  • Assurance of Best Management Practices
  • And any other important agreements between the seller and buyer, like property damage penalties, insurance and provisions to settle disputes.

Be aware, often timber buyers will present a contract, but this contract is generally written to protect the buyer. It is advisable to consult both a forester and an attorney to ensure that your land and financial interests are protected. Our resource section contains some sample contracts you can use as a starting point, but any contract should be tailored to your particular needs to ensure you are protected.

Intensive Management Activities

Many woodland management activities–everything from prescribed burning to road building to thinning–have the potential to significantly impact your forest. If you are hiring a contractor or consultant to help you, it is advisable to have a written agreement that outlines responsibilities and expectations for the work. 

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