Written By Brendan Murphy.

Posted on February 16th, 2016.

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As a forester, it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing myself as “the expert.” But I’ve found that when I interact with landowners, I usually learn as much from them as they learn from me.

This video features three woodland owners from Ohio sharing their insights, values, and reasons why they own woods. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

As a forester, it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing myself as “the expert.” But I’ve found that when I interact with landowners, I usually learn as much from them as they learn from me.

Case in point: I recently discovered this YouTube video called My Woodlot Matters.

This video features three woodland owners from Ohio sharing their insights, values, and reasons why they own woods. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Here are a few of the lessons I learned listening to Clyde Gosnell, Derek Mills, and Lisa Eiselstein:

“You can have a one-acre parcel and have a special natural area.” – Clyde Gosnell

I often hear people say, “My property is tiny. What difference could I possibly make?”

The answer: a big one.

As Clyde explains, even properties with just an acre or two can provide food and homes for a wide variety of wildlife. And when those properties are viewed as a whole, their importance becomes even clearer. The US Forest Service estimates that 20 million wooded acres nationwide are in properties smaller than 10 acres. That’s an area of woods the size of South Carolina. No matter how big or small your property is, both it and you play a part in supporting nature, wildlife, and all the values they provide.

“A lot of it is just going out into the woods, buying a book, taking a picture of something and looking it up. Seeing what something is.” – Derek Mills

Our woods have incredible diversity. Globally, about 80% of plants and animals live in forests, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. Our backyard woods are no different. The typical backyard woods supports dozens if not hundreds of species great and small, from tiny caterpillars to mammoth trees. A lot of owning, appreciating, and caring for the land comes down to learning about those species and what they need to be healthy.

If that sounds overwhelming and you aren’t sure where to start, a few good beginner activities are to Identify Your Trees, Learn Bird Calls, and Attract Songbirds to your woods or backyard.

“Our natural world is in trouble. We need to do everything we can to help, and sharing and teaching is the way to do it.” – Clyde Gosnell

Many landowners and foresters alike value their privacy. But like the landowners in My Woodlot Matters, sharing your outdoor experiences with others is a great way both to teach and learn more about the woods. It’s the reason we created MyWoodlot in the first place.

If you own land in New York and want to get involved in sharing your knowledge of the woods with other landowners, consider the Master Forest Owner (MFO) Program by Cornell University. It’s a voluntary program where landowners receive special training about woodlands, and in return they give free advice to landowners.

If you aren’t ready to take that leap yet, consider having an MFO visit your land. It’s free and a great way to learn more about the woods. Another approach is to reach out to your neighbors, family, kids, grandkids, and friends and tell them what you’re seeing on your land. My guess is that like the landowners in My Woodlot Matters, you have a passion for your woods. Share that love with the people around you.


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