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Landowners sought for survey on forestry

by Special to The Commercial | November 10, 2020 at 4:37 a.m.
Participants in the "Keeping It In The Family" Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff hold a ceremony to install a sign that recognizes land owned by the Adamson family as a certified American Tree Farm. From left are Kandi Williams, UAPB-KIITF outreach coordinator; Helen Adamson, an estate owner; Shawn Boler, executor of the land; Justin Mallett, KIITF program partner; and Joe Friend, UAPB forester.

The University of Arkansas at Monticello and the UA System Division of Agriculture want to hear from Arkansas landowners with more than 10 acres of forested property.

Nana Tian, assistant professor with the UAM College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Division of Agriculture's Forest Resources Center, is researching the number of landowners who are participants in one of three forest certification programs.

The 30-question survey asks landowners about their familiarity with the Forest Stewardship Council, the American Tree Farm System, and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, according to a news release.

In early November, Tian mailed more than 5,000 surveys to forestland property owners and managers. She is trying to gauge the number of Arkansas landowners who participate in land management practices and whether they're part of three recognized forest certification programs.

"Understanding private landowners' attitudes, perspectives, and interests in adopting a forest management certification program plays a significant role for achieving sustainable forest management," Tian said. "This information will be important to forest policymakers and forest certification institutions in promoting forest certification and sustainability in Arkansas.

"From this project, we aim to have a better understanding of landowners' opinions and perspectives towards forest certification and explore the opportunities and constraints that private landowners are facing in participating in certification schemes," she said.

ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE

Arkansas has nearly 19 million acres of forest. Approximately 345,000 nonindustrial, private landowners own nearly 60% of those forests. Forest industry and corporations control almost one-quarter of the Arkansas forests. The National Forest makes up nearly 14% of the state's forestland. When it comes to forestry products and timber production, Arkansas is nationally ranked as No. 6 in forestry products, valued at over $6.5 billion.

CERTIFIED FORESTS

Forest certification is a globally implemented, voluntary program to ensure that forest products originate from land managed with a goal of sustainability. Certified forests not only produce timber, but also sustain the ecological, economic, recreational and social value.

Each certification program has its methods and definitions of best forest management practices. Certifications provide a variety of benefits not only to society but the landowners. Some of those benefits include: healthier forests, greater access to markets, premium prices for some buyers, less waste, personal and community pride in knowing the forest will be managed, better environmental practices, better long-term management planning, recognition among industry peers, and safer worker environments.

For those who didn't receive the survey in the mail and would like to participate, the survey is available online at https://uark.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cGxPfs1grjAyvAN.

Tian said landowners don't have to be familiar with any of the certification programs to participate in the survey. For more information, contact the College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources at (870) 460-1052.

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