Managed Forests

Written by Amy Grotta

Managed forests are those that people intentionally designate and manipulate to produce desired goods such as wood products and/or services such as recreational opportunities. This designation applies to “National Forests” that are managed by the U.S. Forest Service, “State Forests” that are managed by individual state agencies, “Industrial Forests” that are managed by timber industries for wood products, “Family Forests” that are managed by individual landowners and/or their families, and “Urban Forests” that are managed by municipalities and homeowners for noise and wind reduction, shade, and aesthetics. The intensity of management usually varies according to the objectives of the landowner.

Common management practices include vegetation inventories, tree planting, tree thinning, tree harvesting, wildlife habitat enhancement, seeding, road and trail building, prescribed burning, and vegetation control, among others. A primary component of a managed forest is a written management plan that includes an inventory of resources and property boundaries. This plan is a working instrument that guides actions and that changes in response to feedback and changed conditions, goals, objectives, and policies for the purpose of long-term sustainability and conservation of that forest.

As environmental conditions change, such as may occur due to climate change, forest management practices that have worked in the past may need to be modified to continue to meet the goals and objectives of forest landowners. Forest managers may have to adjust their practices and silvicultural prescriptions to conserve forests and help trees adjust to changing conditions. More on this subject can be found in the Caring for Forests section.

Figure 1. Practices, such as this prescribed burn in the forests of the Washington Cascade Mountains, allow managers to alter the landscape to allow for multiple uses of forest ecosystems. This burn was performed to open up new elk territory in the area. Photo by James N. Long, courtesy of

For more on Forest Management Types: