"USDA’s commitment to using wood in new buildings will leverage the considerable buying power of thi
March 24, 2011
This agreement between AFF and NRCS follows a similar agreement signed recently between AFF and the USDA Forest Service.
"With these agreements, the American Tree Farm System® (the sustainable family forestry certification program of AFF), the Forest Service, and NRCS have made it easier for family forest owners to streamline their on-the-ground conservation efforts," said Bob Simpson, AFF’s senior vice president of Forestry Programs. "These three entities have the most influence nationally over private forest management practices," added Simpson.
The partners recognized that having three separate management plan requirements for ATFS certification, NRCS financial assistance funds and Forest Service Stewardship program funds, inhibited participation by forest owners in these programs. Working together, they developed a national model management template that can be used for any of the three programs. This collaborative decision will help minimize costs and redundant processes for forest owners.
"NRCS has made great strides in accelerating conservation assistance to private forest landowners and managers," said Dave White, NRCS Chief, "including a special emphasis on critical forest needs, such as in New England and in the longleaf pine range. "We are excited about expanding our partnership with the American Tree Farm System to provide more tools and opportunities for more forest conservation," said White.
NRCS State Conservationists, ATFS state partners and state foresters are now encouraged to use the same template which will give landowners a stronger incentive to enroll in the various programs.
Most of America’s forests are owned privately, not by the government. Reaching more woodland owners with the tools they need to improve stewardship is vital to protecting the health and productivity of America’s woodlands. The public benefits of private stewardship are numerous: 25 percent of America’s clean water flows through private forest land and 60 percent of America’s at-risk wildlife rely on private forests. More than 90 percent of America’s wood products also come from forests managed by private woodland owners.
"The template includes a guide for both landowners and foresters and will be a valuable tool for state foresters to engage more owners in improving their woodland management. It will help forest owners get the resources they need to do what’s best for the land and to gain the recognition they deserve for sustainable management of a vital resource" said Jeff Jahnke, president of the National Association of State Foresters.
"The net result," said Simpson, "will be more money spent on forest conservation and less on bureaucratic red tape. We’ll be able to reach more people and achieve better conservation outcomes."