Get Growing Blog

The Story of Ohio Family Forests

November 27, 2023


Pull on a sweater and grab something warm to drink, it’s time to reflect and be grateful as the world dozes off for the winter. Many of us are lucky enough to have strong bonds to our family, those we have grown up alongside, those who taught us to love nature, and those who know exactly how to aggravate us in ways that only make us love them more (eventually).

Anyone who has a connection to our beloved Ohio trees has one more reason to be grateful for family this year. 70% of Ohio forests are family-owned, meaning the people you are sharing mashed potatoes with this year have potential to have some of the largest impact on land stewardship in the state.

As we are grateful for the forests, we want to make them more resilient and protect this legacy for generations to come. Some landowners may also seek to generate income from the resources on their property, whether through timber, maple syrup, mushroom, ginseng, or other forest products.

For the land manager / family member in your life, balancing these goals can be a daunting task. Trees have long memories and mismanagement can have lasting effects. Thankfully, Working Woods can help. Working Woods at the Holden Arboretum is a 67-acre, nationally recognized, publicly accessible demonstration site and, now, it can be accessed online!

All of the most important information about Working Woods is presented here, in the form of a ‘Storymap’, a kind of website that combines maps and other interactive pieces of media into a cohesive story.

In this Storymap, aerial photography tells the history of Working Woods, trees regenerating from agriculture into the forest it is today.

Details of specific forest management are presented alongside maps of the forest. Videos of some of the practices are available.

At the end of the narrative, readers are invited to take a virtual tour through the described areas. Clicking on icons on the map pulls up a 360-degree photo taken at that location.

So as you are chatting with your family about the future of your woods (or are looking for a quick change of subject), pull out your phone and show everyone the Working Woods Storymap! If you or your loved ones are interested in learning more, please sign up for our newsletter here. This is the best way to stay up to date about news, events, and workshops at Working Woods, including the annual Landowner Field Day!

John Brett

John Brett

Forestry Outreach Fellow

John is Community Forestry’s Forestry Outreach Fellow. His work focuses on using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a tool for understanding and communicating spatial environmental data. A recent OSU graduate, John received his M.S. from the School of Environment and Natural Resources for his research in comparing on-the-ground measurements of Northern Red Oaks in Columbus, Ohio with LiDAR and photogrammetry measurements. His projects here at Holden include his work on the Storymap and virtual tour, capturing drone footage, prioritization of outreach efforts based on parcel and forest metrics, and practicing best forest management within Working Woods.

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