Resource management plans facilitate the long-term management of forest resources. There are several reasons to consider SOD management actions within the broader context of a resource management plan.
1. Land owners and managers typically use and manage forest lands for multiple purposes. Planning helps you integrate management efforts related to different purposes and can help minimize or avoid management conflicts.
2. Forest ecosystems are complex and dynamic systems that can vary widely across the landscape and change over time. A management tactic that is effective at one time and place may be ineffective under a different scenario. Planning allows you to consider all major ecosystem components and how they are likely to change over time before undertaking management activities.
3. Management actions are often constrained by economic considerations. Planning allows limited resources to be allocated based on priorities and allows for cost comparisons between alternative management scenarios.
4. Taking no action is a management decision with consequences. Over the short term, a landowner may not incur any costs by taking no action. However, impacts and costs associated with inaction (e.g., allowing SOD to progress without intervention) could be more expensive over the long term than taking simple, well-timed management actions (see Sidebar 2-1—Costs of SOD-Related Mortality). A plan can help you assess risks and benefits of management.
5. Trees and forests are long-lived resources whose values develop over a long time frame, but can be damaged quickly by inappropriate management actions. Developing an adequate plan before executing actions allows you to increase efficiency and minimize unintended consequences that may be difficult or costly to correct.
Developing a management plan can help improve resource management on both large and small properties.