The United States’ working forestlands, more than half of which are privately owned, provide multiple benefits to our country - millions of jobs, diverse wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation and, valuable and renewable forest products.
Georgia-Pacific supports the Forest Landowners Association (FLA), a 70-year-old-organization committed to supporting private forestland ownership in the United States, “because they believe, like we do, in solutions that balance social, environmental and economic interests,” said Deborah Baker, GP's vice president - sustainable forestry, environment and outreach.
Family Forests, a GP newsletter for landowners, recently talked with Scott Jones, CEO of FLA, about the organization's mission and support for private forestlands. Following are excerpts of that interview.
Family Forests (FF): So, how do you sustain private forests?
Scott Jones (SJ): “We must sustain the people who own them. Basically, you need to cut trees to sustain forests. If timberland is valuable because there are markets for wood products, it won’t be converted to other uses. If there’s value there for the landowner, they will replant and manage forests.
“That’s why FLA aggressively supports issues that help keep the forest industry competitive as well as supporting private property rights and the ability of landowners to manage their land for a variety of uses.”
FF: What is the value of forest certification for forest owners?
SJ: “Forest certification (through a third-party certification system) is a wonderful way to demonstrate a higher level of stewardship on your property, but it does not mean it’s the only way to sustainability. Using a bridge analogy, for big forest investors, you may need a certification program that is equivalent to the Golden Gate bridge - on one side you have the need to demonstrate sustainability to a large number of stakeholders and a third-party audited forest certification program is what meets your need and gets you to the other side.
“For other landowners, a bridge on a county road may be what you need, like the American Tree Farm System. For many family forest owners, you may only need a small footbridge, which is represented by compliance with federal and state laws and adherence to forestry Best Management Practices to ensure that you are managing your forests responsibly.
“Landowners have different land objectives and needs. The focus should be on responsible forest management and support for markets for wood products. Private forestlands are important for all of us and we are working to protect all private landowners’ rights to manage and sustain their forests.”
For more about the Forest Landowners Association, visit www.forestlandowners.com, where you can sign up for a free newsletter, or call for more information: (800) 325-2954 or (404) 325-2954.