FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 25, 2024
A South Georgia forest landowner has been awarded one of the nation’s highest honors for her commitment to the sustainable management of trees. Heather Brasell, of Berrien County, has been named the 2023 Tree Farmer of the Year by the American Tree Farm System (ATFS). Brasell was recognized for her stewardship of the Gaskins Estate, which has been in her family for nearly 200 years.
The American Tree Farm System program promotes the growing of renewable forest resources on private lands while protecting environmental benefits and increasing public understanding of all benefits of productive forestry. The Georgia Forestry Commission works with Georgia landowners to support the highest standards of forest stewardship and partners with ATFS across the state. Brasell was chosen as Tree Farmer of the Year from a group of four regional winners. She will be recognized at a national Tree Farm event in March.
“Ms. Brasell’s roots are in forest ecology in Australia. She came to Georgia and earned a degree in Science education, and has been passionate about the beauty and benefits of Southern forests ever since,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Director Tim Lowrimore. “Our agency commends her dedication to sound forest management and is proud to help celebrate this outstanding achievement.”
The Gaskins Estate boasts managed forests of planted and natural longleaf, loblolly, and slash pines, along with a number of hardwood species. Almost half the land is managed for timber production and the property, which borders the Alapaha River, is abundant with native wildlife. In 2009, Brasell enrolled in the Tree Farm Program and in 2011, she established the Gaskins Forest Education Center, which has become a noted facility for outreach, hosting frequent classes, workshops, and field days.
Brasell’s focused management practices include prescribed burning, invasive species control, and tree thinning. Her property is renowned for its rich biodiversity, providing habitats for a number of wildlife species including gopher tortoises, Bachman’s sparrows, and indigo snakes.
For more information about the American Tree Farm System and services of the Georgia Forestry Commission, visit GaTrees.org.