What is a school forest stewardship plan?
A stewardship plan is a specific assessment of your site’s natural and human-made features with recommendations for taking care of the site according to your goals, along with a map and work plan. The primary goal is to increase the use of the school forest for education.
Note: Small, urban school forests need plans too. However, plans for small sites look quite different from traditional stewardship plans that encompass several acres of land. Your DNR forester can guide you to take actions that will keep urban outdoor learning spaces healthy and resilient.
Why have a plan?
Stewardship plans are used to care for your site long-term. Even when school staff changes, the School Forest Program will use this plan to help your site progress according to your goals. Having a plan may also qualify your school to apply for cost-share grants to thin the forest, harvest trees, or plant wildlife plots.
Who writes the plan?
A forester writes the stewardship plan after visiting your site and meeting with your school forest committee to learn your goals.
To prepare, think about the goals for using the forest. Your school should have a site coordinator and/or a committee who will direct how to manage the site for the whole school. Use these tools below to clarify your goals.
Examples of school forest stewardship goals
The first two goals should be part of every plan.
- Increase school forest use.
- Maintain health of the trees and forest.
Then consider these other common goals.
- Design a trail network to promote use by students, teachers, and community members.
- Improve the quality of wildlife habitat and timber.
- Establish or enhance native vegetation.
- Create a mediation/emotional cool-down trail.
- To use the land as an education tool through a self-guided trail.
- To demonstrate timber harvests that will generate income.
- Reduce invasive species.
- Learn from the interactions of natural and human communities.
- Protect areas near water.
- Reduce vandalism.
- Or any other goal important to the school!
Stewardship plan template and examples
A forester writes the stewardship plan. The template below outlines the types of information and recommendations typically found in plans. These documents are provided in Word so that you can integrate your ideas into the template.
Your forester should update your stewardship plan every 10 years.
- Optional appendices about ADA, invasive species, deer, mowing, mulching, nest boxes, pruning, thinning, trails, wildlife
Sample Stewardship Plans
- Marlene Myers School Forest 0.27-acre small urban site in northeast Minneapolis
- Oak Ridge School Forest 10-acre suburban forest in Eagan, adjacent to school
- Cook County School Forest 27-acre rural site in Grand Marais, adjacent to school
- Laporte School Forest 40-acre rural site in Laporte, managed for education and timber harvest