Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Planning the Future of the Forest: Forestry Education Grant for Penn State University

Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-05) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) recently announced the award of $60,260 in grant funding to the Pennsylvania State University.  The grant dollars will be used to educate landowners on the protection of forests for future generations.  Funding for the project, “Planning the Future of the Forest:  Seeing Landowners Like Me,” is from the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“Forestry is close to the heart of many people across North central Pennsylvania.  It is a major part of our heritage and economy.  In addition, our forests are a major contributor to the health of our environment,” Thompson said.  “I know the researchers and educators at Penn State will put this funding to good use.”

The grant funding is intended to address forest legacy planning among private landowners.  This includes the transfer of forested properties to future generations, strategies to protect land from development, and other tools used to keep woodlands intact.  The project involves landowners across the northeastern United States.   

“Woodlands are at great risk for conversion to other uses and loss following land transfers,” said Dr. Allyson Muth at Penn State’s School of Forest Resources.  “Funding for this project will enable us to establish resources for landowners to address forest legacy planning and ensure the continued stewardship of their woodlands. We appreciate Congressman Thompson’s and Senator Casey’s support for funding to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture that facilitates this outreach project to more than 20 states. “

“I appreciate the work Penn State educators are doing in making people across our state aware of their options for protecting the forests of ‘Penn’s Woods’ for years to come,” Casey said.  “Pennsylvania is growing older, with the average age of a forest landowner at nearly 60-years of age.  For those who plan to leave that land to members of their families, this program is essential.”

To learn more about how to transfer your forestland to the next generation visit Penn state’s Legacy Planning web site.  There you can find publications, presentations, talking points, and other resources to assist you in your legacy planning efforts.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Family Forest Landowners and Certification Getting Boost

Private forest landowners in Pennsylvania and members of the PA Tree Farm Committee, who administer the American Tree Farm System’s certification program, have been trying for quite some time to find value in forest certification.  We have always known certification was important but struggled to find real value that can be offered to landowners.  This may just be the answer forest landowners have been looking for.  Certification means that forest landowners have to follow a set of criteria known as “standards.”  Certification in the American Tree Farm System means landowners are practicing sustainable forestry, considering wildlife, water, invasive species, and other forest attributes, besides just timber, in their management decisions.

With a number of changes in the PA Tree Farm Program soon to be implemented this just may be what is needed to help grow family forest certification in the state.  Landowners may soon find real value in the program.  Recognition of Tree Farm certified wood fiber by companies such as McDonalds and Mars could really give this program the boost it needs.  This is an important announcement demonstrating that going forward certification will be important. 

Read the news release below from Eco Business  

September 16, 2015
By GreenBlue Org

GreenBlue and the American Forest Foundation (AFF) today announced a new partnership to bring together America’s family forest owners and several of the most well-known marketplace brands, including Mars, Incorporated; McDonald’s; Avery Dennison; and Evergreen Packaging.

For the first time ever, both ends of the forest products supply chain will connect and take part in a dialogue to explore their respective needs and challenges relative to sustainable forest management. The dialogue, which kicks off this November and lead to a meeting in January, builds on GreenBlue’s Forest Products Working Group efforts to examine the role of forest certification to explore, in partnership with AFF, frameworks for providing assurance that wood from family woodlands is produced sustainably.

“We know that America’s family forests are a critical source in supplying the wood fiber for McDonald’s packaging,” said Townsend Bailey, Director of Supply Chain Sustainability at McDonald’s USA. “The GreenBlue/AFF partnership creates an opportunity to connect with family woodland owners and explore ways to assure and engage our customers around the sustainability of our products.”

“Our goal at Mars, Incorporated is to achieve a fully sustainable supply chain for all the pulp and paper-based packaging materials we use,” said Rachel Goldstein, Global Sustainability Director at Mars, Incorporated. “As demand for sustainably sourced products grows, we’re working with our suppliers to make this happen. We look forward to participating in the Sustainable Forest Management Summit so we can engage with family forest owners and drive meaningful collaboration.”

“AFF operates our country’s oldest and largest sustainable woodland program, the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), showcasing it’s an impressive history of working with family forest owners to ensure their forests provide an incredible range of benefits such as wood, wildlife habitat and clean water,” said Nina Goodrich, GreenBlue’s Executive Director. “We are honored to partner with AFF to expand their work and be a part of connecting these two vital audiences in a dynamic value chain.”

The GreenBlue and AFF partnership is part of a new larger initiative launched by AFF this month, to help meet the growing and changing global market needs for sustainable wood supplies from family-owned forests, while protecting and enhancing wildlife habitat and other forest benefits. The initiative is currently in phase one gathering input and data from the forest products supply chain, from manufacturers to consumers, forest land owners themselves, and many others to identify priority areas and wood supply needs.

“Brand owners play a key role in the supply chain of wood products, as they are at the forefront of customers,” said Tom Martin, President of AFF. “This partnership with GreenBlue offers the potential to uncover new insights and help us increase our impact on ensuring family-owned forests continue to provide for all Americans.”

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Caring for Pennsylvania's Private Forests

Maureen Harmon penned a great article about caring for Pennsylvania's private forests in the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of the Penn State Ag Science Magazine. From a spotlight on Pennsylvania private landowners caring for their land to the unique role that the Center for Private Forests at Penn State plays in the Commonwealth, this article highlights efforts to "conserve Pennsylvania's signature landscape for generations to come." Check it out!

Caring for Pennsylvania’s Private Forests 
By Maureen Harmon

Staff and volunteers of the Center for Private Forests help Pennsylvania’s landowners conserve forests for generations to come.

On April 27, 1811, Abraham Bussard purchased a tract of land on the side of a Pennsylvania mountain. At the upper part of the wooded property sat a sandstone boulder, which must have beckoned to Abraham and his wife Elizabeth, because it was there that they built their home and spent their lives surrounded by forest.

Over the years, the land welcomed generations of the Bussard family, who raised sheep, pigs, beef, and dairy cows, and raised crops to feed the animals. The property expanded when family members purchased surrounding tracts. It was on this farm that Laura Jackson grew up, living the life of a farm kid—milking cows, baling hay, driving the family tractor. She learned the lay of the land, and what it could offer her as a place to play and explore the forest.
Click here for full story.