Sustainable Forestry & Your Forest


Sustainable Forestry

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Conserving Southern Forests

Your family’s forestland is a valuable asset that should be carefully managed for the many benefits it provides. Private forestlands in the South provide most of our region’s wildlife habitat, support a strong forest products industry, and are an excellent long-term investment.

Experts estimate that the South is losing 645,000 acres of forests to development each year, and that by 2040 25% of our remaining forestland will have been converted to pine plantations. While our forests support some of the greatest wildlife diversity in America, there are already more threatened forested ecosystems in the South than in any other part of the U.S.

Non-industrial private landowners own 72% of the forestlands in the South. Our forestlands already produce more timber that any other region of the U.S. or any other country in the world, and timber production is projected to increase 50% by 2040.

Private forestlands must be conserved and managed sustainably to maintain wildlife habitat and the long-term viability of our forest-based economies. By using sustainable forest management, landowners can be good stewards while still enjoying and profiting from their forestland.

Sustainable Forestry

There are many benefits of sustainable forest management:

Conserving Intact Forests

Sustainable forestry relies on maintaining or improving forest health. You can continue to enjoy the beauty, recreational opportunities, and profits from your forest while conserving an intact forest.


Financial Incentives for Conservation

When you conserve your forestland from development, you can receive various tax benefits and financial assistance for some forestry activities.



Sustainable forestry produces periodic income for valuable sawtimber and other products while keeping the forest intact. Forest recreation (such as hiking and hunting) and tourism (such as rental cabins or camping) can also provide good income.


Long-term Investment

Forestland is considered one of the most stable long-term investments. Timber harvests are carefully planned so that the forest’s “inventory” is maintained or improved. In other words, you maintain your timber “capital” while only harvesting the “interest” while the property’s value continues to increase.

What you can do

CONSERVE your forestland

·   Your local land trust can help you identify opportunities to conserve your land through easements and other financial incentive programs. Contact the Land Trust Alliance:, 919-424-4427

·   Contact your state department of forestry to find out about “Present Use” tax reduction programs that reduce property taxes for forestland.

·   Contact your local government (county/city) to find out about any local forestland conservation programs.

PLAN for good forestry

·   Learn as much as you can about forest management options.

·   Find a reputable consulting forester who can help you determine the best way to manage your forest to meet your goals. The Forest Guild has a directory of foresters who practice sustainable forestry on their website: , 505-983-3887

Beyond the Forest

Sustainable forestry supports much more than just forest conservation. Across the South, communities are organizing to conserve forestlands and create strong forest-based economies:

Landowners are conserving their forestland for wilderness and recreation values, and using sustainable management to produce high-value timber and other forest products.

Foresters who specialize in sustainable management are showing landowners how to conserve, restore, and derive income from their forests without compromising any of their goals.

Loggers & Harvesters with a commitment to maintaining the ecological health and productivity of forests are using restoration and low-impact harvesting techniques to produce high-value timber and other products.

Craftspeople & Businesses are creating value-added forest products such as building materials, furniture, and medicinal plant products. These enterprises create good jobs, keep economic returns in local communities, and keep ownership in local hands.

Recommended sustainable forestry publications:

Managing Your Woodlands: A Guide for Southern Appalachian Landowners

Appalachian Voices     828-262-1500


Low-impact Forestry: Forestry as if the future mattered

Maine Environmental Policy Institute     207-622-9766


Full Vigor Forestry: Sustainable Forest Management from the Forest Owner’s Point of View

Timbergreen Forestry     608-588-7342