Post-harvest survey getting pre-harvest attention

Consulting foresters

A new woodland owner survey intended as a post-harvest satisfaction rating is also being used as a pre-harvest checklist to improve communication between landowners and professionals.

Two months ago, Maine Forest Service sent a Harvest Satisfaction Survey to 2,000 landowners who conducted a timber harvest in 2013. So far, more than 750 surveys have been returned and early results suggest more than 80 percent of landowners are happy with their harvest, according to the Maine Forest Service.

Since the surveys went out, at least three local foresters have started using the survey as part of their business routine to improve communication and their own performance.

“I guess I’m just interested in getting a little more feedback on the operation itself and how things turned out and if there’s anything that needs improvement,” said consulting forester Peter Klachany. “It’s a reminder to me to do things a little differently. More feedback is always good.”  Klachany says the survey will be especially useful to get feedback from the landowner when the harvest is winding down, but while the gear is still there.

Echoing those sentiments are consulting foresters Jeffrey Williams of Hollis and Charlie Moreno of Center Strafford, NH.

“It opens the door for communication between logger forester and landowners. That’s the hardest thing to just get the communication started,” said Williams. “Thiis is a place to start. And it keeps the door open at the end of the harvest.” He thinks some landowners are hesitant about giving feedback when the harvest doesn’t meet their expectations because they feel like they should have known. “I don’t think guilty is the right word, but they are hesitant about saying anything if it’s not to their liking.”

Likewise, consulting forester Moreno says the survey provides a framework for discussions.

“It provides a nice summary of all the issues in woodlot management,” said Moreno. “I’ll use it to review all aspects to get a sense of a landowner’s interests.”

The survey was developed by Andy Shultz, the landowner outreach forester for the Maine Forest Service. It’s the first of its kind and Shultz said he’s pleased at both the high return rate and that more than 80 percent of land owners are either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied.”

“This is very encouraging,” said Shultz. “For the first time, Maine’s small family woodland owners have a way to express how they feel about their harvests, and they are embracing it.”

The Maine Forest Service plans to publish aggregate survey results and will use the data to inform future educational and outreach efforts. Shultz said he’s happy to hear that some professionals are already embracing the survey.

“It’s also encouraging to hear that some consulting foresters and loggers plan to use the survey as a pro-active tool for improving harvest outcomes and their individual businesses,” he said.

Category: Forest Conditions