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* Purdue Department of Forestry & Natural Resources

December 15, 2009

Forest handbook a 'tree-mendous' resource for woodlot owners

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - It isn't always easy to see the forest for the trees when it comes to properly maintaining a wooded area, but a new Purdue University Extension publication cuts through the confusion to provide practical tips and information.

Forest Improvement Handbook - publication FNR-IDNR-414 - helps landowners protect and enhance their woodlots to improve timber, wildlife, environmental, recreational and aesthetic values.

"This resource is for private forestland owners who are interested in managing their forest resource," said Ron Rathfon, Purdue Extension forester and the publication's lead author. "It is designed to give them introductory knowledge on forest improvement practices that will help them more effectively express their goals and objectives with professional foresters."

Indiana was home to nearly 5 million acres of forestland in 2005, the last year data was available, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resource's Division of Forestry. About 83 percent of those acres was privately owned, with 97 percent of the trees in those forests being hardwoods.

With so many forested acres in private ownership, it is important that landowners take care of their valuable natural resource, Rathfon said.

The 28-page handbook covers such topics as forest regeneration practices, tree pruning and cutting techniques, and controlling invasive species.

"It's divided into two basic sections," he said. "One presents the overall practices that need to be considered at different stages of forest development. For example, if you have a forest that recently had a timber harvest, it will describe practices that would be appropriate immediately following that timber harvest. The second section describes the mechanics, or 'how to,' of implementing those practices.

"Even if timber management is not a primary objective of landowners, following the practices in the handbook should result in forests that are more healthy and attractive and that retain and improve the long-term timber income option for a landowner."

The handbook contains more than 60 photographs and diagrams; charts describing general forest improvement prescriptions, methods and herbicides; and contact information for state forestry and wildlife agencies, industry organizations and other reference materials.

Forest Improvement Handbook is $5 for a printed copy and free for online download through Purdue Extension's The Education Store. To obtain the publication in print form or online, log onto and enter "Forest Improvement Handbook" in the search box, or call the toll-free Purdue Extension hotline at 1-888 EXT-INFO (398-4636).

Writer: Steve Leer, 765-494-8415,

Source: Ron Rathfon, 812-678-5049,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-8415;
Steve Leer,
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