Participants in the Southeast Regional Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) Meeting gathered in Atlanta in October to discuss markets, forest products, and forestland issues representing a broad array of stakeholder backgrounds. The sustainability of forests and forest products were a primary focus of the 25 speakers who addressed a crowd of around 140 people. Some speakers detailed commitments of their companies to address environmental concerns relating to their products and supply chains. Others spoke to supply, demand, and growth issues pertaining to “green” products. FSC standards and changing markets were also addressed.
On day two, participants including members from the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Forest Trade Network, and individuals from Singapore, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, traveled to the western North Carolina Mountains to tour forestland belonging to former Congressman Charles Taylor. Taylor owns 351 acres of mixed yellow poplar and oak forest. The tour highlighted FSC forest management on a small, privately held hardwood forest. Columbia Forest Products wrote the management plan for this property and the timberland is managed by Columbia under FSC guidelines.
Even though the yellow poplar stand was recently harvested, the group enjoyed a walk through a forested landscape and witnessed how nature is already growing new trees without having to plant them. The tour continued through a streamside management zone where water quality is the highest management concern. The ridgetops are mostly left intact to create a viewshed buffer to maintain aesthetics of mountains that are visible for miles. The tour walked along skid roads that have been improved for access, or have been re-vegetated and closed off to vehicles.
The primary management goals on Taylor’s property are to generate revenue by growing timber; continue to improve the quality of the residual stand; and to maintain healthy, vigorous forests that are more resistant to insects and wildfire. By managing forests using the FSC guidelines, Taylor is also placing emphasis on water quality, wildlife habitat, and keeping the landscape forested for generations to come.
Overall, Taylor’s property demonstrates that managing hardwood trees to generate revenue can be accomplished while still maintaining forest cover and protecting the other values of the forest. In a few more years, the forest will be able to provide more trees for sustainable wood products, and again, and again. And if anyone wanders onto Taylor’s property, tucked deep into the mountains, they will discover a forest where man and nature work to sustain each other.
For more information about FSC or forest management plans for landowners contact firstname.lastname@example.org.