Protecting woodlands can be demanding, but landowners should take steps to prevent timber theft and timber trespass on their property. Landowners must be intentional and willing to take an active role in the management of their property. Complacency can cost you!
- The value of working with a reputable professional forester to assist with the sale of your timber and to monitor the harvest cannot be overstated. If you are a victim of timber theft or timber trespass, these professionals also can assist in determining the value of stolen timber and damages to your property.
- Walk your property on a fairly regular basis.
- If you become aware that trees are being cut on your own or your neighbor’s property without permission, contact law enforcement immediately and indicate that a crime is being committed. Once stolen trees leave the property and reach a mill, it is impossible for law enforcement agencies to track the timber.
- Be aware of your property boundaries and have them clearly marked so that they can be seen from adjoining properties.
- Provide adjacent landowners with boundary information, preferably, a survey that can be compared to their own information.
- Be sure that your timber contract clearly states the boundaries and be sure everyone involved in the harvest is aware of the boundaries.
- Advise adjoining property owners that you do not want your timber harvested and ask that they contact you if they notice suspicious logging activity.
- Likewise, advise adjacent landowners when a timber harvest is scheduled on your property, especially if the harvest will take place along or near a property line.
- Recognize the potential for your timber to be cut if a harvest is being conducted on an adjacent property.
- Remember that absentee landowners are more at risk for timber theft and should have someone keep close watch over their land and timber.
According to GFC’s law enforcement division, landowners with complaints about actions affecting their timber should follow three specific steps:
- First, attempt to resolve the situation with all parties involved.
- If that fails or if the harvesting parties are unknown, landowners should record all known information including contracts, dates, names and contact information for other parties involved and anyone who has knowledge of the events.
- Once that information is obtained, the landowner should report the incident to the local Georgia Forestry Commission office.