Georgia's Forest Action Plan
The 2008 Farm Bill required state forestry agencies to complete a Statewide Forest Resources Assessment and Strategy by June 2010 (now known as the Forest Action Plan or FAP). This FAP provides a comprehensive analysis of forest-related conditions, trends, threats and opportunities in the state and delineate priorities within rural and urban forest landscapes. Additionally, states developed long term strategies for investing federal, state and other resources to manage these identified priority landscapes and issues while meeting national, regional and state themes or guidance.
The three consensus-based national priorities with accompanying strategic objectives are:
- Conserve working forest landscapes.
- Identify and conserve high-priority forest ecosystems and landscapes.
- Actively and sustainably manage forests.
- Restore fire-adapted lands and reduce risk of wildfire impacts.
- Identify, manage and reduce threats to forest and ecosystem health.
- Protect and enhance water quality and quantity.
- Improve air quality and conserve energy.
- Assist communities in planning for and reducing wildfire risks.
- Maintain and enhance the economic benefits and values of trees and forests.
- Protect, conserve and enhance wildlife and fish habitat.
- Connect people to trees and forests.
- Manage and restore trees and forests to mitigate and adapt to global climate change.
The GFC worked collaboratively with key partners in numerous disciplines which provided program-specific input for forest health, stewardship, conservation easements, water quality, marketing and utilization, wildfire protection and prevention, sustainable community forestry and wildlife. Forest inventory and analysis (FIA) data served as a basis for current forest data. As the assessment and strategies were developed, they incorporated major plans already in place such as the State Wildlife Action Plan, Community Wildfire Protection Plan and the Southern Wildfire Risk Assessment. This allowed seamless integration with existing statewide efforts already underway in Georgia.
The GFC contracted with the University of Georgia to develop geospatial data layers used to identify priority areas. Issues identified in the 2008 Forest Management Sustainability Report will be used as the foundation for strategy development.
The Forest Action Plan was submitted to the US Forest Service in June 2010. Thanks to everyone involved in the process of creating this document.
Georgia's Sustainability Report
Due to population growth projections and the potential effects on forest resources, the 2005 Georgia General Assembly created a joint "Future of Forestry" study committee. The committee was charged to prepare a comprehensive plan for Georgia to sustain and expand the benefits of its 24+ million acres of forest land and forest products industry.
One of the primary recommendations of the report was for the state to investigate the benefits of developing a procedure to allow for "sustainable forest" labeling to be placed on Georgia forest products. The committee also directed the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) to certify to the General Assembly the sustainability of the state's forest resources through a report every five years. Subsequently, the 2007 General Assembly requires the GFC to verify this sustainability which is defined as the ability of the forest resources in this state to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability to meet the needs of the future. With the assistance of many individuals from a number of organizations, the initial report was submitted to the General Assembly on July 1, 2008.
The report found that the state's forests are currently being sustainably managed. To ensure our forests will continue to meet the ever increasing demands of future generations, many challenges must be met. Success will depend on proactive decisions by our state leaders and the entire forestry community addressing a myriad of forestry-related issues such as urban sprawl, ownership and management objective change, forest land valuations, economics of traditional and emerging forest markets, water quality and quantity, air quality, biodiversity, fire management, forest health and forest land conservation.