Working Woods

Helping Your Forest Thrive

The Program Excellence Award is presented to an American Public Gardens Association institutional member who has displayed an engaged and innovative spirit in the development and facilitation of an original and completed public program. Holden is honored to be recognized by the APGA for the Working Woods!

Most of Ohio’s forest is privately owned. Private landowners face a variety of challenges when it comes to land stewardship including succession planning, pests, disease, poor logging practices, pressure from logging companies, and invasive plants. Good forestry addresses these challenges by working with nature so both people AND the woods can thrive.  Learn more about the forestry treatments being used in the Working Woods such as…

  • Single Tree Selection Timber Harvest
  • Improvement Cutting
  • Timber Stand Improvement
  • Agroforestry and Non-Timber Forest Products (maple sugaring, native medicinal plants, mushrooms and more)

Working Woods is also a site for research that explores best practices for helping woodland properties evolve from young forested land into older, healthy forests as well as the impact climate change will have on our forests.


Trails, interpretation, and parking are all in development; the entire site will be open to the public once finished.


Classes and workshops held at Working Woods can be found in our online calendar. During the social-distancing requirements of COVID-19, classes and workshops will be held as webinars.


Check out our Landowner Library for management tips and tools.

Forestry Professionals

Working Woods seeks to demonstrate good forestry practices and empower people to implement good practices on their own land. Working Woods is a resource for landowners, natural resource professionals, ODNR, soil and water conservation and park districts, consulting foresters and more.

Are you a forestry professional operating out of Northern Ohio, PA, or NY? We hope that the Working Woods Learning Forest and all that it demonstrates can be of use to you.

  • Relevant Research: The forest at Working Woods is arranged into experimental plots where common forest management treatments are applied and monitored. This research is relevant and directly applicable into adaptive management practices.
  • Demonstration: Working Woods contains thoughtfully laid out and accessible demonstration plots where common forest management practices are taking place in real time and contrasted with unmanaged forest. We hope you use Working Woods as a model of different forestry practices or harvests to share with woodland owners. If you are interested in visiting with a landowner or group, please contact us at [email protected].
  • Cutting-Edge Best Practices: The Learning Forest was designed through a collaboration of natural resource professionals, regional and state foresters, educators and scientists from Holden and around the region. This collaboration has made the site, our professional network, and associated resources valuable as a living laboratory for best practices in the trade. Learn more by attending a professional network day or workshop.

Working Woods Forestry Treatments

Working Woods at the Holden Arboretum demonstrates multiple management techniques, including:

Income and Regeneration: A Single-tree Selection Cut

In the southern half of working woods, in the area where the old sugarbush is, there is a mature, somewhat overstocked and somewhat declining Beech-Sugar Maple forest. There are enough trees here that some can be harvested and rejuvenate the forest, providing light for younger, healthier trees. The Single-tree Selection Cut demonstrates how landowners can derive income from timber while maintaining a healthy woodland.

Single-tree Selection Explanation. Click to view

With the help of a professional consulting forester, timber is marked, cut, removed and sold so that we can tell the story of single-tree selection harvest from start to finish. For more on how a single-tree selection harvest is different than other techniques that might be more economically—rather than ecologically—focused click on the poster to the  below. Every step of the process considers the health of the forest: unhealthy, over-mature trees are selected for harvest first and horses and light-impact machinery are used to carefully extract logs with minimal damage to remaining trees.

For this treatment, about ~12 acres are being cut, which means around 9-10 trees per acre harvested. At Working Woods, about 115 single trees have being selected for cut.

Timbering in deciduous woodlands.

Thinning and Revitalization: An Improvement Cut

Girdled and felled trees

The northern portion of Working Woods is dominated by young, unhealthy woods of low biodiversity and dense, even-aged red maple/tulip poplar trees. In this area, an Improvement Cut is applied. Thinning makes more space/resources for the healthiest trees, letting them grow faster and healthier. No trees are being extracted from the improvement cut: trees will be felled or girdled, so that they contribute to the organic matter of the forest floor or provide habitat for wildlife.

Timber Stand Improvement

Invasive plants and grapevines are controlled to promote native biodiversity and regeneration.


Agroforestry is a system of cultivation which integrates existing ecological conditions with production goals for human use. While timber management treatments exist at the center of the site, the edges of Working Woods present an opportunity to use agroforestry to demonstrate non-timber forest product (NTFP) cultivation.

The ecosystems of Working Woods provide opportunities for demonstrating everything from mushroom growing on logs, to maple syrup, to medicinal plant cultivation.

These agriculture-forestry integrations are growing in popularity amongst hobbyists and homesteaders and present an inspiring and engaging experience that contrasts conventional agriculture. Agroforestry practices also provide viable alternatives to tree harvesting for income to landowners. Agroforestry in Working Woods will be phased, growing as the Working Woods project grows and changes.

Working Woods Agroforestry Map

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