What is a Timber Inventory and Appraisal – and Why Do I Need One?

August 1, 2019

A timber inventory is a systematic sampling method used to estimate the species and volumes of standing timber in your forest. Lower intensity sampling can sometimes be used for making forest management recommendations, but a “market level” inventory is more common, and is useful for a number of reasons including timber sales and establishing a timber basis.

Conducting an accurate timber inventory is key to getting maximum value from a timber sale. A market level timber inventory includes the collection of measurements on merchantable timber using a sampling intensity to target a 90-95% confidence in reported volumes. Data is gathered using a 10 factor basal area prism to record measurements in plots on a fixed grid. The number of plots determines the level of confidence in reported volumes – more plots = more accurate volume information and a higher confidence level. Timber volume can be reported in a number of ways, but is most commonly reported in pulpwood tons, sawtimber tons, and/or sawtimber board feet (the Doyle scale is most commonly used in this area). Successful marketing of a timber sale depends largely on the confidence of bidders in the inventory volumes presented in an invitation to bid.

After determining the volume of timber on the property, we appraise the value by considering a number of factors including published regional market value trends, recent timber sales, current local and regional market conditions, access and terrain constraints, observed quality of timber, and any stipulations the landowner may place on harvest operations that are outside of industry standards. Using a comprehensive approach to determining timber value helps to avoid inflated appraisals, and gives the landowner a realistic idea of potential revenue from a harvest.

The landowner receives a copy of volume reports and summaries, maps of the property, and estimated market values for timber products. A high-confidence timber appraisal can also be used to establish a timber basis for capital gains treatment of a property, which is helpful for estate planning and future tax purposes. Call us to discuss how a market level inventory and appraisal can help you plan for your forest’s future.

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