Skip navigation

American Tree Farm System Certification

American Tree Farm System Certification

The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) is the United States' oldest family forest certification program. In 1941, ATFS began promoting responsible forest management on our nation’s private forests. As other forest certification programs grew in response to public concerns over resource-use and environmental issues, ATFS continued to provide affordable certification to private landowners along with unique educational opportunities.

ATFS Landowners and Certification

How has the American Tree Farm System changed in the past few years?

Our program is now internationally endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement for Forest Certification systems (PEFC). As part of this endorsement, ATFS has introduced third-party auditing procedures for all three of our certification options. Lands enrolled through State Tree Farm programs or ATFS Independently Managed Group programs are covered by third-party certificates from accredited certification bodies.

Through third party certification, ATFS continues to be recognized as a highly credible and valuable resource for landowners. We advocate on your behalf with industry and policy makers to improve markets and incentive programs.  

Standards of Sustainability for Forest Certification

All landowners enrolled in ATFS must meet the American Forest Foundation’s Standards of Sustainability for Forest Certification[PDF] (Standards) . The American Tree Farm System is a program of the American Forest Foundation (AFF).

AFF Standards are developed by an independent panel of stakeholders and experts appointed by the American Forest Foundation’s Board of Trustees. The Independent Standards Review Panel included representatives from academia, state and federal government, conservation groups, forest industry, labor, family forest landowners, and other interested stakeholders. The 2010-2015 Standards were reviewed and updated by the Independent Standards Review Panel in 2009.

International Certification Recognition

In 2008, ATFS was endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC), the world's largest, non-profit, non-governmental forest certification organization dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management.

Endorsement by PEFC shows international confidence in ATFS and has opened markets for Tree Farmer’s wood. Certification is a Tree Farmer’s important foot-in-the-door to certified paper and wood products markets that continue to grow as everyday customers and large companies address their environmental footprint. Third-party certification is also anticipated to become a prerequisite for emerging markets such as ecosystem services markets like carbon and water quality.