What is Integrated Land Management?

Folks often ask “What is Integrated Land Management?”  Since this is a brand hammer new blog I can think of no better opportunity to explain the basics of ILM, the heart of our approach to land management in the Southern Appalachians.  So here goes.  ILM is based on four simple principles.

1.  Education
2.  Planning
3.  Consolidation
4.  Bio-mimicry


Let us start with education.  It is as simple as the old “teach a man to fish” proverb; we believe education is the basis of good stewardship for us as well as our clients.  Although little celebrated, what we do with our land is likely the greatest impact we will have on the earth in our lifetimes.  We believe your land itself has a great deal to teach you if you learn to listen.  Each piece of land has a vast history as well as a unique place in our remarkable bio-region.  True integration with rural land cannot be bought and can be learned only peripherally from books.  It has been our experience that clients who become passionately involved in their projects are ultimately better served than clients who are not.  In addition, they save money by asking important questions and contributing valuable ideas, even if they have never owned land before.


Start with a plan.  Don’t just begin.  Planning is cheap and fun and highly educational – mistakes in the real world are not.  Basic technologies such as digital mapping, low altitude aerial photography and computer modeling, (as well as a good pair of boots), can help make sense of multiple issues at the same time.  Put simply, these things allow you to see your land as a whole.  Much like blueprints for a house they work toward cogent strategies that eliminate costly double handling, incorrect task sequencing, waste of precious resources and unnecessary expenditures.  Good land stewardship, regardless of property size, demands the consideration and balancing of many factors.  With regard to planning ‘Take the time it takes, so it takes less time.’


Hire a single competent contractor to organize and execute the required work.  This practice ensures good linear accountability and transparency.  It means the right hand knows what the left hand is doing at all times.  The words “not our fault” are eliminated. We have participated in numerous projects of all types that could have been more successful and less costly if a single good contractor had had the reins throughout.  It is truly sad to work on projects with all sorts of mistakes and cost over-runs without the authority to right the ship.  As a rule the extra cost of hiring the best contractor is easily paid for by avoiding mistakes.  It is the difference between the “ best value” and the “cheapest.”


Don’t fight with Mother Nature.  She always wins.  Want to keep it cheap and obtain good results then see how Mother Nature does it.  This means using what you have and avoiding waste.  Design your home and access around your site instead of the other way around.  Use the valuable resources already available on your land such as timber, rock and water.  Recycle biomass through good clearing technologies such as forestry mulching.  Choose the most thoughtful and efficient technologies even if they require a  little more financial input up front.  The ultimate costs of inefficiency, as well as negative environmental and social impacts, are usually concealed by cheap prices.

There are hundreds of ways you can work with Mother Nature, save money and resources, and learn to scrap the buy, buy, buy mentality.  You will become better educated, have more fun and achieve better and longer lasting results.  So there you have it, the basics of Integrated Land Management.  Have questions or just  want to weigh in, feel free.  We will be discussing a diverse array of topics in the future.  Stay in touch.