July 11, 2011
For Immediate Release
Contact: Brigitte Johnson, APR
The American Tree Farm System® (ATFS), a program of the American Forest Foundation (AFF), today announced an innovative partnership with the Louisiana Forestry Association (LFA) that will allow Louisiana forest owners who own 10,000 or more acres to receive ATFS certification for their sustainable forest management practices under a group certificate held and managed by LFA.
The new partnership makes LFA the only state forestry association in the nation to manage an ATFS group certificate. "Certification is crucially important to Louisiana forest owners who own and manage large tracts of private forest lands, and helps make Louisiana a strong competitor in a global marketplace that increasingly demands certified wood products," says ATFS Director Liz Sandler. "Certified fiber is important not only for privately managed forestland, but also for jobs and the health of Louisiana’s rural communities."
Initially, two large forest owners, Hunt Forest Products and Alex T. Hunt, Jr., will have a total of 50,000 acres of forestland certified by ATFS under the new LFA group certificate. "We already have a long list of other large forest owners waiting to join the group," says Buck Vandersteen, Executive Director of LFA. "We anticipate that when we bring in those already on the waiting list, the LFA group will represent about 250,000 acres of sustainably managed Louisiana forests."
The new partnership came about when Louisiana’s larger forest owners faced a decision either to become certified through ATFS or to seek independent certification from another organization. "The owners unanimously decided to stay within the ATFS system. It’s well known; it’s recognized by the timber products industry, and it’s credible," says Vandersteen. "The partnership has received a strong commitment from Louisiana’s forest products industry. They see the value in supporting the American Tree Farm System and all that it means."
"Buck Vandersteen and LFA deserve a lot of credit for their leadership in making this happen," says ATFS Director Sandler. "Buck recognized the importance of ATFS certification to ensure the credibility and sustainability of forest management practices in Louisiana. He found a way to make it happen that adds value for LFA members. Thanks to this partnership, Louisiana forest owners have a new option to become ATFS certified, and another reason to be part of LFA."
Increasing demand for ATFS-certified wood is driving AFF’s efforts to grow the American Tree Farm System and, by doing so, make more certified timber available to the forest products industry nationwide. Recently, 100,000 newly certified acres of private forestland were added to the ATFS in Maine, and 480,000 acres of state-owned forestland were added in Mississippi. "We hope that other state forestry associations will adopt LFA’s group certification model in their own states so that even more certified timber is available in the future," said Sandler.