Alabama's Forest Stewardship Plan certified by American Tree Farm System as meeting management planning requirements for family forest landowners

WASHINGTON, D.C. , May 20, 2009 (press release) – The Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) and the American Tree Farm System® (ATFS) announced today that ATFS certification universally recognizes Alabama’s Forest Stewardship Plan as meeting management planning requirements for family forest landowners.

“ATFS recognition of Forest Stewardship Plans will not only expedite the process for Alabama landowners interested in being Tree Farm certified, it will also allow landowners the opportunity for third-party certification, which is required for emerging markets such as biomass energy and carbon sequestration,” said Linda Casey, Alabama State Forester.

Bob Simpson, senior vice president of American Forest Foundation, the ATFS program’s parent organization, echoed these sentiments. “This recognition will open the door to many types of opportunities for Alabama family forest owners seeking affordable certification of their forest management.”

Previously, each individual Forest Stewardship Management plan still needed to be reviewed and evaluated for approval into the Tree Farm program. Today's announcement provides programmatic level approval for landowners who are enrolled under the Alabama Forest Stewardship program.

The Forest Stewardship plan is designed to assist landowners who want to become more active in planning and managing their forests. The plan defines a landowner's objectives and outlines an action plan to achieve their goals while maintaining and enhancing forest resources. Having a management plan greatly increases the likelihood that their forests will remain intact, productive, and healthy, and that the social, economic, and environmental benefits of these lands will be sustained for future generations.

Alabama’s Forest Stewardship program is a primary tool to assist landowners in the management of their property. Under the Stewardship program, over 4,000 landowners were assisted in 2008 positively impacting 316,000 acres. Forest Stewardship plans are a main component of the program and are available to qualifying landowners without charge by contacting the Alabama Forestry Commission. As many as 1,700 Alabama forest landowners with nearly 1.5 million acres will benefit from this agreement.

Established as a state agency in 1924, the mission of the Alabama Forestry Commission is three-fold: to Protect the Forests from all harmful agents; to Service and Help Landowners carry out responsible forest management on their property, using professional technical assistance so as to benefit themselves, their land, and society; and to Educate the General Public about the value of our forests in ensuring both a healthy economy and environment.

Founded in 1941, the American Tree Farm SystemÒ (ATFS) is the oldest and largest forest conservation, certification, and advocacy program in the United States. ATFS promotes the sustainable management of forests through education and outreach to private forest landowners. ATFS has enrolled 24 million certified acres of privately owned forestland and 91,000+ family forest owners who are committed to excellence in forest stewardship. Family forest landowners manage their forestlands for wood, water, wildlife, and recreation with assistance from 4,680 volunteer foresters.

ATFS is a program of the American Forest Foundation, is a nonprofit 501(C)(3) conservation and education organization that strives to ensure the sustainability of America’s family forests for present and future generations. Our vision is to create a future where North American forests are sustained by the public which understands and values the social, economic, and environmental benefits they provide to our communities, our nation, and our world.

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