I went out cruising timber with Kerrylee, one of our foresters, to get a better feel for a property that was for sale. Basically cruising timber is just collecting an inventory of the trees on a stand and gathering the information for an analysis.
There is a prospectus with an analysis of the sale, but we needed to go out a proper look and really see for ourselves before making a bid. The prospectus has a summary of the sale, with the total number of trees of each different species and their sizes with total board feet. There is detailed information about what type cuts are to be done on different blocks of land, trees are typically painted to represent either tree that are to be cut or left. Haul Roads may need constructed and there are certain times of the year that they want the skidding and hauling completed. There is information about what the log landings entail and the post cut seeding and fertilizing.
We got out to the woods and trekked through the massive amounts of poison ivy. (Of course I had a reaction to it) The property we looked at was heavy with poplar, but it also had quite a bit a red oak trees and that’s what we were most interested in. I had my tape measurer and spray paint while trying to figure out how I’m going to carry my video camera. The next time I am bringing my fanny pack! We walked all along the border getting a feel for what the majority of the poplar quality was, but not taking the time to measure every one of those trees. I learned how to recognize the different markings that represent the property borders. The top was nice flat area then around the back was a rather large ravine, which was where all the red oaks were growing. It was somewhat of a challenge climbing up and down and getting the tape measure around some big 20 – 30 inch DBH (Diameter at Breast Height) trees that were hanging over a 20 foot super steep hill. I think Kerrylee was happy I was out this day learning (aka doing the dirty work). After you have the DBH recorded you have to step back from the tree and determine how many logs the trunk has. We made our own estimates of the amount of board feet and noted if there were any possible veneer logs, which really increase the value. (Learn more about veneer in previous post)
Another aspect we had to consider was how difficult it would be to log these trees. The majority of these red oaks were on this ravine hill side and a normal cut would cause the log to fall into the creek bed and possibly crack in half. They would have to be connected to the skidder and pulled inward while being cut. I haven’t spent any time with the loggers yet, but this sounded rather difficult task to me.
Here is a bit of HISTORY from Wikipedia that I found about Timber Cruising.
Surveying and taking inventory of trees originated in Europe in the late 18th century out of a fear that wood (the main source of fuel) would run out. The first information was organized into maps used to plan out usage. In the early 19th century forest harvesters estimated the volume and dispersal of trees within smaller forests with their eyes. More diverse and larger forests were divided into smaller sections of similar type trees that were individually estimated by visual inspection. These estimates were related together to figure out the entire forest’s available resources. As the 19th century progressed so did the measurement techniques. New relationships between diameter, height, and volume were discovered and exploited. These newfound relationships allowed for a more accurate assessment of wood types and yields of much larger forests. By 1891, these surveys were conducted through sample-based methods involving statistical averages and more sophisticated measuring devices were implemented. In the 20th century, the statistical method of sampling had become well established and commonly used. Further developments, such as unequal probability sampling, arose. As the 20th century progressed, an understanding of coefficients of error became clearer and the new technology of computers combined with the availability of aerial as well as satellite photography, further refined the process. As a result sampling accuracy and assessment values became more accurate and allowed for modern practices to arise.