Protecting the future of the forest

Posted By | May 24, 2005 12:00 am

Jody Sliger
Forest management is defined as ‘the application of business methods and forestry principals.’
Sparta is fortunate to now have a forestry management company located right here, led by forestry professionals. Tennessee Timber Consultants has opened their fifth branch in middle Tennessee is White County.
Tennessee Timber Consultants was established by Wade McMahan, a certified forester with more than 30 years of professional forestry experience. Their mission statement: To serve Tennessee’s forest landowners as Tennessee’s best private source for professional forest management, and timber brokerage services. To provide this ethically through the dedicated application of our knowledge, skill and hard work to meet the needs of our clients, while maintaining a leading role in Tennessee’s forestry community.
Sean McMahan, business manager of TTC said, “People want to know what they’ve got, rather than guess at what they’ve got. We set up an appointment to look at timber. The first time out is free of charge and it is called an initial scout.
“A professional forester will make the initial scout and based on what they see, make recommendation to the landowner, whether now is a good time to sell their timber or no, it is not a good time.”
Offices are scattered around middle Tennessee with the newest office in Sparta headed by Matt Ellis.
Ellis holds a Bachelor of Science and a Masters degree in Forestry, and is a member of the Society of American Foresters. He has worked with the U.S. Forest Service and the Tennessee Division of Forestry prior to joining TN Timber.
“Let’s say that in the past, the landowner’s acreage was harvested and harvested and harvested in a way that didn’t have a good long term vision to it so now what is left is poor quality stuff,” Ellis said. “We may recommend a harvest that will be more extensive in order to get sunlight to the ground and practice good forestry, with an eye to the future for regeneration purposes. Because otherwise, 50 years from now, you still can’t do anything with the acreage.”
The idea behind having forestry professionals design a harvest is to broaden the scope and establish the long-term view for a landowner. It is to make the forest better and stronger and, for the landowner, more valuable in the future than it is today.
“About three out of five calls we get ends up in a no harvest recommendation,” said McMahan. “If there is a harvest recommendation, we will contract with the landowner to act as their representative. That puts the landowner in the position of being able to deal with professional timber companies by having a professional timber consultant on their site, who not only understands the process, but also the value of what they have.
“Ellis will actually go out and select the timber to be sold and take data on volume and species. So, we know not only how much they’ve got, but also what they’ve got. Because the timber market is very much like the stock market, we look at a stand of timber much the same way as a stockbroker would look at a mutual fund. A mutual fund being a collection of a number of different stocks, when you look at a stand of timber, everything in there is not one species, you’re going to have a mixed bag. So red oak will be one price, white oak is another price, hickory is another price, walnut is another price.
“The benefits are, number one, we are able to design the harvest using this data; number two, we know going into a sale what the timber is worth and we communicate that information to the landowner so they are in a much better position to negotiate with a potential buyer.
“We also have the ability to market very widely based on what we’ve got.
If it is high quality timber, we market widely for high quality buyers. If it’s veneer grade timber, which is very rare and very valuable, we even will market up to Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania for that type of wood. If it is mid-grade or lower, we know the markets.”
Ellis said, “How we design the harvest is not only designated by good forestry practice, which it is, it is also very much dictated by what are the landowners goals for this property because it belongs to them. It doesn’t belong to us and it doesn’t belong to the timber company cutting it. The plan is designed with the landowner’s personal goals a first priority.”
Tennessee Timber Consultants, as the name implies, also does consulting services.
“We appraise timber for the landowner,” said McMahan. “We can design a harvest if the landowner wants to do it themselves, but they want to have a professional forester come out and design the plan. We also write long term management plans, much like a business plan for the forest landowner, keeping in mind the goal is to make their timber business more profitable for the landowner, with an eye not just to today’s profit but to the future.”
Designing a forest plan is feasible even if logging is not the goal of the landowner, a long-term forest plan, using proper planning and management techniques can improve recreational benefits such as hiking, camping, fishing and hunting as well as create a more beneficial environment for wildlife.
Contact Ellis by calling 1-866-968-2953 or e-mail or for more information visit

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