Report Shows Georgia Forests Remain Sustainable

Georgia Forestry Commission | Monday, March 24th, 2014

A new report shows Georgia’s forests continue to be healthy and abundant, providing jobs, ecosystem services and nearly $29 billion to the state’s economy.

According to the Georgia Forestry Commission’s updated “Forest Sustainability Report,” the state’s 24-million acres of
forestland have remained stable for the past 50 years. The majority of that acreage is privately owned and forest growth exceeds removals by 41% annually. The report shows Georgia’s timber supply is plentiful for global and local markets.

“Every five years the Georgia Forestry Commission submits a forest sustainability report to the Georgia legislature,” said Robert Farris , Director of the Georgia Forestry Commission. “The report submitted during the 2014 Georgia General Assembly shows that Georgia’s forests are sustainable for the present, while future actions are needed to ensure their sustainability long-term.”

The report states that urbanization continues to be a threat to forest sustainability, with increases in population and changing land-use patterns making ongoing forest management more challenging in some areas of the state. Other trends noted in the report that merit attention are smaller parcel size s, property tax systems, and the transfer of forest industry-owned lands.

“Georgia’s thriving forests are delivering significant economic, environmental and social benefits,” said Farris. “Our state’s forestry industry contributes almost $29 billion to the state’s economy and provides an estimated $37 billion in ecosystem services, including clean air and clean water, recreation and wildlife.” Farris said in 2012, more than 135,000 jobs were maintained by forestry. In addition, wildlife-associated recreation, which is in great part supported by healthy forest ecosystems, annually supports 40,000 jobs and generates $5.5 billion.

“It will take the focused efforts of lawmakers and citizens alike to ensure the threats identified in this report are met head on,” said Farris. “Our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are depending on us today to keep Georgia forests sustainable for tomorrow.”

Other findings of the 2014 Georgia Forest Sustainability Report include:

– Urbanization places more lives and property at risk from wildfire and complicates the management of those fires and the use of prescribed fire.

– Several issues, such as federal, state and local tax structures and the strength of forest product markets, affect the economic viability of owning and managing forestland.

– Continued support of public and private conservation strategies is needed to aid forest and wildlife sustainability.

The report concludes that with the wise use of knowledge and resources, Georgia can keep its forests sustainable for present and future generations, providing tangible benefits to landowners, local economies and forest industry, while continuing to provide vital ecosystem services from which all Georgians benefit.

To view the 2014 Georgia Forest Sustainability Report in its entirety, visit GaTrees.org