Mississippi has about 18.5 million acres of forestland, which amounts to about 62 percent of the state's land area. Almost 70 percent of this forestland is owned by private, nonindustrial landowners, with more than 150,000 people owning 20 acres or more of forestland. Each landowner may have a different set of forest management objectives, so management decisions should be tailored to the needs of the landowner as well as the objectives and capability of the land.
Mississippi has highly productive forests because of good soils, a long growing season, and abundant rainfall. These highly productive forests, combined with recent increases in timber prices and a high percentage of private ownership, result in forestland ownership being a significant family asset. Mississippi's forests are funding children's college education, providing for people in their old age, and enabling a lifestyle many would not have had otherwise.
A key to successful forest management is a written management plan in which landowners define their management objectives, inventory their current forest resources, and plan activities to accomplish objectives consistent with existing resources. The management plan, once developed, should be followed unless conditions warrant changes. Thus, a management plan is a "living" document that landowners are constantly developing, implementing, reviewing, and revising with appropriate professional advice.
Forest management in Mississippi is complex due to diverse forest types, different ownership objectives, tract histories, and other factors. Forest Management includes the following:
Frequently Asked Questions
Many forest landowners wonder if best management practices really matter on their property, and the simple answer is yes. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/John Auel)
Streamside management zones have become critical tools forestry landowners and professionals use for protecting water quality during and after timber harvests.
Growth and survival of planted hardwood seedlings are not guaranteed, and forest managers may need to learn more about establishment methods to avoid failed plantings.
Mississippians looking for locally grown Christmas trees have several varieties to choose from but should be prepared to shop early for the best selection.
John Kushla, a Mississippi State University Extension Service specialist and research professor who specializes in agroforestry and Christmas trees, said there are several ways to test for freshness when choosing the perfect tree at a tree farm.
During his tenure as an engineer at Boeing, Otis Bullock helped build machines that went into the air and to the moon, but he always had an interest in the trees that grew from the ground where he came of age.