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3 hidden costs of family forestlands in 2024

The 3 Hidden Costs of Family Forestland

beginners clearcut financials income landownership liability sustainability Apr 22, 2024

Family forestland holds a special place my heart, and I know in yours too. Because it’s not just about the trees; it’s about the memories we build on the land and the legacy it holds as our stewardship walk with God. But with this romanticized vision lies a sobering reality: the financial burden it often imposes on families like yours. As the cost of the average lifestyle continues to rise, so does the upkeep costs rise for our forestlands and returns then start to diminish. This leaves many finding themselves contemplating the unthinkable – selling your generational forestland you hold dear. However, with strategic planning and a focus on true sustainability, your family forestland can transform from a liability into a profitable legacy.

A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, (Proverbs 13:22)

But before you can create a profitable forest legacy, let's look quickly at the THREE hidden costs of family forestlands:

1. Neglected Management Costs

Proverbs 24:30-34

Counterintuitive to what most may think, one of the silent killers of family forestland finances is neglecting essential maintenance! Aka, neglecting regular and on-going management in your forests. From invasive species management to wildfire prevention, the costs of upkeep can quickly spiral out of control IF left unchecked. Failure to invest in regular management will often lead to decreased timber quality which reduces your end-game profit opportunity; to reduced wildlife habitat which decreases the diversity and quality of wildlife on your property; to increased vulnerability to natural disasters which are inevitable no matter where you live. These expenses only compound over time with continued no-management hands-off approaches, turning what was once a cherished asset into a financial liability. 

2. Property Tax Pressures

We all have them and we all hate them, however that doesn't change the fact that they are still due at the same time every year. Property taxes are one of the biggest and most significant expense for family forestland owners. As land values rise, so do property taxes, and depending on your forestland's location will easily become that bleeding and squeaky wheel for most families. You even may have been struggling to keep up with these escalating costs, especially when coupled with other financial obligations. Failure to effectively manage and leverage property taxes can lead to mounting debt and, ultimately, the difficult decision to sell the land to alleviate financial strain or worse cause the forestland to be subjected to a tax sale within the county. 

3. Inefficient Land Management Practices

Proverbs 10:4

Inefficient land management practices can drain resources and diminish the long-term profitability of family forestland. You may be asking, what the heck is "inefficient land management practices?!" Especially since I just mentioned above that NOT managing the forestland was one of the worse things to do as it only increases the cost of future management opportunities. Inefficient or effective land management practices are really anything that doesn't align with your ultimate why-factor, or objectives, for the land and for your family. This can range from wrong harvesting techniques or timings to inadequate marketing strategies for niche products or even enrollments into WRONG programs. MANY families fail to maximize the economic potential of their forestlands without even realizing it. Without truly knowing your why, along with proper planning and the follow-through execution, opportunities for sustainable income generation may be lost, often further exacerbating financial pressure within your family.

But I'm not going to end with doom-and-gloom without giving you some quick tips to turn the table!

Despite all the above challenges, you should recognize the crucial role in reshaping the financial landscape of your family forestland you play! Whether you've just inherited this responsibility or have intentionally taken the reigns on your first forestland investment, by taking proactive steps to save money and create a profitable forest, you can ensure a sustainable legacy for future generations to come. 

Matthew 25:14-30

Here are three quick tips to get started:

1. Educate Yourself: Take advantage of the resources and educational opportunities Land and Ladies has to offer to learn about sustainable forest management practices, financial planning, and tax optimization strategies. Empowering yourself with knowledge will enable you to make informed decisions and maximize the economic potential of your forest, and Land and Ladies is there to help you every step of the way whether you're looking to sell timber for the very first time or want a one-stop-shop for all of your landownership needs.

The plans of the diligent lead to profit, as surely as haste leads to poverty. (Proverbs 21:5)

2. Collaborate with Experts: Build a network of professionals, including foresters, accountants, and financial advisors, who can provide guidance and support in managing your forestland. Collaborating with experts will help you develop a comprehensive management plan tailored to your specific goals and circumstances. If you're wondering HOW to find a consultant forester or to ensure you're getting the clarity you need from them, check out THIS article and Podcast episode HERE

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22)

3. Diversify Income Streams: Explore alternative revenue streams beyond traditional timber harvesting, such as eco-tourism, carbon markets, and localized niched non-timber forest products. Diversifying your income sources is not only biblical (Ecclesiastes 11:3) but will reduce reliance on the ultimate big-boy timber harvesting endgame plan AND enhance the resilience of your forestland investment over all the in-between years.

In conclusion, your family forestland has the potential to be a lasting legacy for generations to come. IF only you address the hidden costs mentioned above and ensure you start implementing financial strategies for consistent revenue streams and practices which align with your why and goals. Women are increasingly taking on the roles of decision making roles for their family forestlands and I'm here to assure you that you can safeguard your family forestland assets and create a sustainable future for generations no matter you age, experience or location. With determination and foresight, what was once perceived as a burden can be transformed into a source of pride and prosperity, ensuring the preservation of cherished memories and the enduring legacy of the family forest.

If you're ready to start walking and making decisions as the true land steward God always intended us to be, be sure to check out Landowner to Steward, being taught LIVE at the end of April 2024. I only teach this program live once a year, don't let the opportunity pass you by! Within 12 days you can truly transform your forestland from a perceived liability into the true legacy it should be. 


Discover weekly empowering messages that will not only enhance the productivity of your property but also instill a renewed sense of purpose and pride in your role as a landowner. Experience the transformative journey of blending faith with land stewardship.!