In a late 2018, the Wood Supply Research Institute released its final report from its study, “Value Assessment of Certified Logger Programs.  Key findings from this report included “Pride, Performance and Preference“.  In other words, the loggers themselves expressed PRIDE in achieving Master Logger Certification©; PERFORMANCE is rated higher by stakeholders (consultants, landowners, mills) for Master Loggers; and when given the option, stakeholders show PREFERENCE in hiring a Certified© Master Logger. 

The study also offered suggestions to improve growth and recognition of the American Loggers Council endorsed Master Logger Certification programs (ALC MLC©).  Chief among these suggestions was a recommendation to better connect with small landowners and the vast non-industrial private forestland they own. 

According to the American Forest Foundation (AFF),  “Most of America’s forests are privately owned, and of these, 95 percent of them are owned by families and individuals. In total, that’s nearly 290 million acres of forestland, owned by 21 million family forest owners“.  That’s a significant number!  Caroline Kuebler, AFF’s Senior Manager of Woodland Owner Engagement, says her organization “works on-the-ground with families, partners and elected officials to promote forest stewardship and protect our nation’s forest heritage. A commitment to the next generation unites our nationwide network of forest owners working to keep our forests healthy and producing the clean water, wildlife habitat and sustainable wood supplies that all Americans count on from forests”.

ALC MLC© has been working with both AFF since December of 2018 to help improve the knowledge and understanding of the ALC endorsed MLC© programs, and to better inform the landowners about the program and what it stands for.  Kuebler says “While most landowners want to do right by their land, they often face hurdles such as difficulty finding resources, trouble navigating the process and cost. AFF is working with partners to engage more landowners together”.

Partnering with AFF is one important way landowners can learn more about the benefits of choosing a logger with an ALC endorsed Master Logger Certification©.  Recently, AFF added a section to their landowner-focused website, www.MyLandPlan.org, to advise landowners about choosing a logger, including the qualifications to seek out. “Loggers are an important partner with landowners, to help them achieve their goals.  They are a critical part of the process and logger’s expertise can help landowners make the right choices for conservation, their harvest goals and the long-term legacy of their land”, says Kuebler.  AFF has added links to ALC endorsed MLC© programs with contact information for Certified Master Logger businesses.  We are working with them to supply more up-to-date information about professional timber harvesters, that reflect advances in safety and environmental impact.  As a professional logger, you can feel confident in recommending small landowners to this website to learn more about the work you do. 

Are you looking to better connect with small landowners in your region?  One relatively easy and inexpensive way is to set up a professional online presence, such as a website and via social media (we have previously written about the value of social media). 

Another way is to advertise your services to local landowner groups, such as  your state or regional Tree Farm System. While professional loggers have many demands on their time, we often see generous participation in community education events, such as conservation field days and stewardship events.  These are great events to interact directly with landowners to share how your dedication to following the Seven Areas Of Responsibility day in and day out impact the environment in a positive way—clean water, productive forests and healthy habitat for wildlife.

Regardless of how you work with your customers, the key to success is clear communication between the landowner and logger.  “Understanding what the landowner’s goals are is the first step”, states ALC MLC© Committee Chair and experienced Florida Logger, Richard Schwab.  “Whether or not you, the logger, can meet those goals is something you will need to know and communicate clearly.  Often, you’ll be in the position to educate the landowner about what can and can’t realistically happen on a job site”, says Schwab.

Certified Master Logger, Shannon Jarvis of Jarvis Timber Company (photo, left) in Potosi, Missouri echoed Schwab’s sentiments and says “Many folks don’t always realize that it’s not going to look pristine during or immediately after a job.  Logging is a planned disturbance that will result in their goals and objectives, but these aren’t always immediately apparent”.  

Written contracts are, of course, vital to effective business management.  Explaining the type and purpose of equipment you plan to use can help a landowner to understand the complexities of a professional and modern timber harvesting operation. Having a photo portfolio with before, during and after shots can help landowners better understand the timber harvesting process, and be better prepared for the realities of how the land will look during and after the harvest. 

Small landowners often have different objectives when choosing to harvest than industrial or even larger track landowners.  Shannon encourages talking with the landowner in depth about what they envision when the harvesting job is done.  “I know from experience that a little extra clean up, or a couple of hours with a bulldozer can turn a logging job into something a landowner is really happy with.  Maybe they want walking trails or a look out cleared.  I encourage loggers to take use extra patience, and sometimes a little extra time with a small landowner. Things like that can make all the difference”.

Master Loggers are experts in all phases of timber harvesting, but to a landowner this may be a once in a generation occurrence.  “As a logger, you have to remember that while they might not have many acres, what they have is their pride and joy, and I want to do the best possible job for them”, says Jarvis. “Each job that is completed to the Master Logger Standard, set forth by the American Loggers Council, helps improve the image of our industry. That’s what it was set to do and that’s why it’s important to me and should be important to others.”

Master Logger Certification© is an earned designation that you can be proud of, and this designation proves your work in the woods is of the highest quality.  We are excited to partner with national landowner groups, such as American Forest Foundation, to help explain what the program is, and why they should be turning to Certified Master Loggers for timber harvesting operations.