The most common reason for selling timber is to generate income. Timber may be viewed as a cash crop, just like corn or soy beans. It just has a longer growing period. It may be managed to generate periodic or emergency income. The long term value of a woodlot can be maximized by periodically harvesting the larger trees, since so doing enables younger trees to grow faster. With the larger trees removed, the younger trees receive more sunlight and a greater portion of the finite amount of nutrients and water available. A young tree will typically add more sale value in a year than will an old tree. It should also be recognized that old trees will eventually succumb to age and/or disease, reducing their value to zero. Millions of dollars of value are lost every year because of the natural demise of older trees.
Harvesting the larger trees also has non-economic value in that it enables the development of undergrowth, which provides habitat and food for wildlife.
Some timber owners mistakenly believe that they can increase their profits by harvesting their trees themselves. Logs, lying on the ground, or stacked in piles, may in fact bring fewer dollars than the standing trees from which they were generated. The quality of a tree significantly affects its value. When it is on the ground or in a pile, the buyer cannot accurately assess its quality and, to reduce his risk, may be willing to pay less for it than if he could see it standing.
Also, logging is hard, dangerous work. It should be undertaken only by persons with the specialized skills, experience, and equipment to do it safely and effectively.