Sustainable Forestry


Sustainable Forestry

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In its truest and most simple form, sustainable forestry works to mimic the natural processes of a forest, while addressing the economic needs of individual landowners and communities.  Sustainable forestry incorporates sustainable timber supply and harvest, natural processes, economic resources in the forest, and the welfare of resource-dependent communities. 

There are seven primary goals of sustainable forestry:

1. Ensuring the long-term health of timber production;

2. Promoting economic vitality for individuals and communities;

3. Protecting and improving soil, water, and air quality;

4. Providing wildlife habitat;

5. Maintaining native ecosystems;

6. Protecting high conservation value forests;

7. Maintaining recreational opportunities and aesthetic values. 


Sustainable Forestry and Your Forest

Information for landowners





Southern forests have long been an important aspect of the culture and heritage of the region, yet today their future is threatened. Southern forestlands harbor some of the greatest wildlife diversity in the world, and provide recreational opportunities, clean water, and valuable forest products. 72% of Southern forestlands are owned by private, non-industrial landowners and provide 71% of the timber harvested in the region.


There are more threatened forested ecosystems in the South than any other part of the U.S., and it is estimated that more than one million acres of our forests will be developed each year. Private forestlands must be preserved and managed sustainably to maintain wildlife habitat and the long-term viability of forest-based economies.


Between 1992 and 2020, the South is expected to lose 12 million acres of forested land, 8% of that to developed uses.  An additional 19 million acres of forests will be converted to developed uses between 2020 and 2040.  In addition to this conversion of forest land, sixty percent of all logging in the United States occurs in the South, where each year 5.3 million acres are heavily logged.  By 2040, 8 million acres in the South will be logged yearly.  Logging is an important component of forest management, and it is critical that it be done properly as a component of long-term forest management, especially at such high levels.  In addition, if current projections hold, by 2040,

270+ million acres of southern forests will be cut

64 million acres will be sprayed with herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers

The area of natural forests will decline by 25 million acres

The South will gain 22 million acres in industrial plantations

30 million acres of forest will be lost to sprawl

The forests of the South are the most productive in the U.S. and produce more timber than any other region or country in the world. Forest-based economic development creates multiple economic benefits for rural communities such as:

opportunities for landowners to derive income from their forest while maintaining other forest values

local jobs for loggers, foresters, and others who work in the forest

local processing that creates good jobs and keeps profits from forest harvests in the community

construction and other trades that specialize in the use of local timber

retailing, recreation, and tourism opportunities such as camping, hunting, fishing, and woodcrafts.

Across the South, communities are organizing to conserve forestlands and create strong forest-based economies:


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


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


Loggers and 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 and 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.