Saturday, April 23, 2011

Managing pine beetle risk when investing in land

For years I’ve been working with people in Alabama with their forest land, whether as a forestry consultant or as a Realtor helping with a purchase.  Frequently, I’m asked about pine beetles and its associated risk and how that risk should influence management decisions.   I could write a book on the amount of misinformation I’ve heard.  When looking at land for sale, I’ve seen the pine beetle risk influence buyer’s decision.  I’ve also had landowners cut their timber and then refuse to spend the money to replant their land, citing pine beetle risk.  Worse, I’ve seen unethical wood buyers use the scare of a pine beetle infestation, whether real or not, to convince the owner to sell their timber, many times at less than market value.   So, are pine beetles a significant risk?  They are a risk, but that risk can be managed.  I use the following analogy when asked about the risk: If you bought 100 head of cattle as an investment, would you put them out to pasture and not check on them?  The same thing applies with a pine forest.  Periodic inspections combined with a little knowledge regarding what you are looking for, can prevent a large area of lost timber.  I’ve attached the link to a Publication by the Mississippi State Extension Service.  It explains how to identify a beetle attack and how to manage.  It also gives a link to more detailed information.

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