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There could be a "Pot of Gold" on your land

Publication Number: IS1417
View as PDF: IS1417.pdf

If someone told you there was a pot of gold on your land, what would you do? You would probably want to find it and determine its value. For many landowners the value potential of their forest land is like an undiscovered “pot of gold” waiting to be found.

Many landowners don’t know how many acres they have, let alone how to determine the value of their forest land. You can begin to understand the value of your forest land by determining the quantity of timber and the kinds of trees, products, sizes, quality, or other characteristics.

Forest land value can also include income potential from hunting, aesthetics, and other income-producing enterprises, but this publication focuses on the value of timber.

How can you estimate the timber value of your forest? To estimate the value of your timber, you need to know how much timber is on your land and the price of timber in your area. Consider this easy formula:

Volume x timber prices = Total value in dollars
(V x P = $TV)

You can estimate the “P” of the equation by determining the price of similar timber sold in your area. (You can get timber price information from your county Extension office and from

Volume (V) is the unknown factor. How much timber do you have in your forest in board feet and cords or tons? What species of trees do you have on your land? A professional forester can help you answer these questions by conducting a timber inventory.

What Is a Timber Inventory?

A timber inventory or “cruise” is a survey of forest land to locate timber and estimate its quantity by species, products, size, quality, or other characteristics. With this estimate of timber inventory you can estimate the monetary value of your merchantable timber. You wouldn’t sell your house unless you first had it appraised to determine its value. Does it make sense to do less with your timber, a commodity most people know far less about than the value of their houses?

An inventory conducted by a professional forester can provide you with the following:

  • Timber products by volume (cords and board feet) and/or by weight (tons).
  • A location map describing your timberland.
  • Age, condition, growth data.
  • Descriptions.

Use of Inventory Data

A timber inventory is to the landowner what merchandise inventory is to a merchant — a count of the number and quality of goods available for business. With inventory information and the help of a professional forester, you can plan and schedule management activities including cultural improvements, regeneration, and timber sales. A plan based on an inventory includes biologically and environmentally desirable practices and provides a cash flow schedule to indicate what is financially possible.

Who Can Inventory Forest Land?

A professional forester registered (licensed) by the Mississippi State Board of Registration for Foresters can inventory your forest land. Call your county Extension office and ask for information on any of these:

  • Consulting foresters.
  • State agency foresters.
  • Wood-using industries that have landowner assistance programs.

You can find a listing of registered foresters by county at

Information Sheet 1417 (POD-02-16)

Revised by James Henderson, Associate Extension Professor, and Dr. Deborah Gaddis, former Associate Extension Professor, from the original information sheet by Dr. Robert A. Daniels, former Extension Professor.


Contact Your County Office


Professor and Head
Forest Economics and Management

Your Extension Experts

Extension/Research Professor
Agroforestry, Christmas trees, GIS, forest soils, pine silviculture
Extension Associate III

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