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A tree farm is a privately owned forest managed for timber production. The term, tree farm, also is used to refer to tree plantations, tree nurseries, and Christmas tree farms.
As of 2019, an estimated 49% of forests in the United States are owned by families.
Notable corporations include Greenwood Resources, which is owned by TIAA-CREF.
The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) is the largest and oldest woodland certification system in America. It is internationally recognized by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification and meets strict third-party certification standards. It is one of three certification systems currently recognized in the United States (the others include the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative). ATFS specializes in certifying private forests, primarily those held by individuals and families and currently certifies over 24 million acres (110,000 km²) of forestland. The ATFS Standard for Certification is owned by the American Forest Foundation, a national nonprofit organization focused on promoting sustainable stewardship of America's woodlands and related environmental education through Project Learning Tree.
The tree farm movement began in 1941 in an effort to promote resources on private land, ensuring plentiful fiber production for timber and paper companies.With declining virgin saw timber available, the industry began to promote forestry practices to ensure sufficient fiber production for the future. Prior to 1941, the majority of fiber came from industrial lands. The first tract of land labeled as a Tree Farm was organized and marketed by the Weyerhaeuser Company to help change public attitudes toward timber production and protect natural resources from forest fires and other natural disasters. This first official tree farm, the 120,000-acre Clemons Tree Farm, was dedicated in Montesano, Washington, on June 12, 1941. The title of "tree farm" was chosen in large part because Weyerhaeuser felt that the 1940s public understood farming as crop production, and similarly tree farming was focused on producing more timber, with frequent replanting post-harvest. The early sponsors of the tree-farming movement defined it as "privately owned forest-land dedicated to the growing of forest crops for commercial purposes, protected and managed for continuous production of forest products." Alabama was the first state to launch a statewide tree farm system, and a formal dedication ceremony was held in Brewton on April 4, 1942, with 25 individuals and companies presented certificates. Emmett N. McCall was certified as the nation's first individual tree farmer. In the early 1940s the concept of "tree-farming" on private land was promoted by American Forest Products Industries, a subsidiary of the National Lumber Manufacturers Association in an organized campaign to engage timberland owners in conservative timber production. In 1954, American Forest Products Industries, under the leadership of William B. Greeley, drafted and approved a “Principles of the American Tree Farm System.” This code established a set criteria for tree farm certification.
Throughout its history, ATFS has relied on celebrity Tree Farmers to relay its message to the public. Celebrities include actor Andy Griffith, actress Andie MacDowell, former President Jimmy Carter, and Rolling Stone keyboardist Chuck Leavell.
Since 1941, the system has shifted to focus on whole stewardship, rather than strictly fiber production. According to the Standards of Certification for ATFS, woodland owners must own 10 or more acres and have a management plan.In that management plan, woodland owners must recognize wildlife habitat, protection of water quality, threatened and endangered species, and sustainable harvest levels. The certification standard is subject to multi-stakeholder involvement in the development and revision of the standard, third-party audits, and a publicly available certification of audit summaries. The minimum acreage to qualify for a tree farm refers to "woodland" i.e., forested land. So acreage which includes grazing or other non-wooded lands must have at least 10 acres in forest to qualify. Furthermore, programs in different areas which support tree farming activities may require larger forested acreages as well as additional criteria. For example, The Forest Ag Program in Colorado requires the following standards:
To be eligible for the Forest Ag Program, properties must meet several criteria:
- The landowner must perform forest management activities to produce tangible wood products for the primary purpose of obtaining a monetary profit. Tangible wood products include transplants, Christmas trees and boughs, sawlogs, posts, poles and firewood.
- The landowner must have at least 40 forested acres.
- The landowner must submit a Colorado State Forest Service-approved forest management plan that is prepared by a professional forester or natural resources professional.
Landowners must annually submit (1) a request for inspection, (2) an inspection fee, (3) an accomplishment report, and (4) an annual work plan for the following year, and have the enrolled property inspected by a CSFS forester.
As a program of the American Forest Foundation (AFF), the American Tree Farm System focuses on the long-term sustainability of America's forests in ecological and economic terms. The vision statement of AFF states, "AFF is committed to creating a future where North American forests are sustained by the public that understand and values the social, economic, and environmental benefits they provide to our communities, our nation, and the world."
The network of over 90,000 woodland owners is organized through state committees and governed at the national level. Currently 45 of the 50 states have committees. Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, North Dakota and Utah currently do not have programs. With national coordination, ATFS strives to "work on-the-ground with families...to promote stewardship and protect our nation's forest heritage."The state networks also include tree farm inspectors, who certify the forests and conduct outreach efforts on behalf of ATFS and partnered organizations.
Each year ATFS hosts a National Tree Farmer Convention and awards an individual or family with the National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award. It also awards a National Outstanding Inspector Award to a resource professional who has demonstrated exceptional outreach efforts to engage landowners and the general public in sustainable forestry.
A forest sequesters carbon in its trees. The forest removes carbon dioxide from the air as trees grow and returns it to the air as trees die and rot or burn. As long as the forest is experiencing net growth, the forest is reducing the amount of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas, from the air. Furthermore, if timber is regularly removed from the forest and turned into lasting wood products, those products continue sequestering carbon, while the replacement tree farm trees absorb more carbon dioxide, thus effecting a continuous reduction in greenhouse gas.
Because tree farms are managed to enhance rapid growth, a tree farm tends to sequester carbon more quickly than an unmanaged forest, considering only the sequestration side of the equation and not the carbon release due to rot, fire, or harvest.The fact that managed woodlands tend to be younger and younger trees grow faster and die less contributes to this distinction.
While tree farms absorb large amounts of CO
2, the long-term sequestration of this carbon depends on what is done with the harvested materials. Forests continue to absorb atmospheric carbon for centuries if left undisturbed.
The USDA has an online calculator for how much carbon is sequestered in various types of forests.
Carbon dioxide is a primary building material for plant tissue and is required to make plants grow fast and strong, so presumably higher levels of CO
2 in the air as a result of burning fossil fuels would make forests grow faster. Duke University did a study where they dosed a loblolly pine plantation with elevated levels of CO
2. The studies showed that the pines did indeed grow faster and stronger. They were also less prone to damage during ice storms, which is a factor that limits loblolly growth farther north. The forest did relatively better during dry years. The hypothesis is that the limiting factors in the growth of the pines are nutrients such as nitrogen, which is in deficit on much of the pine land in the Southeast. In dry years, however, the trees do not bump up against those factors since they are growing more slowly because water is the limiting factor. When rain is plentiful trees reach the limits of the site's nutrients and the extra CO
2 is not beneficial. Most forest soils in Southeastern region are deficient in nitrogen and phosphorus as well as trace minerals. Pine forests often sit on land that was used for cotton, corn or tobacco. Since these crops depleted originally shallow and infertile soils, tree farmers must work to improve soils.
In addition to better fertilization, biosolidspresent an innovative solution. Biosolids are treated sewage from municipal or agricultural sources such as chicken and hog operations in Virginia and North Carolina. Though biosolids have the potential to improve soils and lead to improved tree growth, barriers to adoption include regulation and inertia.
A carbon sink is any reservoir, natural or otherwise, that accumulates and stores some carbon-containing chemical compound for an indefinite period and thereby lowers the concentration of CO
2 from the atmosphere. Globally, the two most important carbon sinks are vegetation and the ocean. Public awareness of the significance of CO2 sinks has grown since passage of the Kyoto Protocol, which promotes their use as a form of carbon offset. There are also different strategies used to enhance this process.
Reforestation is the natural or intentional restocking of existing forests and woodlands (forestation) that have been depleted, usually through deforestation, but also after clearcutting.
A plantation is a large-scale estate, generally centered on a plantation house, meant for farming that specializes in cash crops. The crops that are grown include cotton, coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar cane, opium, sisal, oil seeds, oil palms, fruits, rubber trees and forest trees. Protectionist policies and natural comparative advantage have sometimes contributed to determining where plantations are located.
Tree-planting is the process of transplanting tree seedlings, generally for forestry, land reclamation, or landscaping purpose. It differs from the transplantation of larger trees in arboriculture, and from the lower cost but slower and less reliable distribution of tree seeds. Trees contribute to their environment over long periods of time by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife. During the process of photosynthesis, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we breathe.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit, multistakeholder organization established in 1993 that promotes responsible management of the world's forests. It is an example of a market-based certification program used as a transnational environmental policy.
Agroforestry is a land use management system in which trees or shrubs are grown around or among crops or pastureland. This diversification of the farming system initiates an agroecological succession, like that in natural ecosystems, and so starts a chain of events that enhance the functionality and sustainability of the farming system. Trees also produce a wide range of useful and marketable products from fruits/nuts, medicines, wood products, etc. This intentional combination of agriculture and forestry has multiple benefits, such as greatly enhanced yields from staple food crops, enhanced farmer livelihoods from income generation, increased biodiversity, improved soil structure and health, reduced erosion, and carbon sequestration. Agroforestry practices are highly beneficial in the tropics, especially in subsistence smallholdings in sub-Saharan Africa and have been found to be beneficial in Europe and the United States.
Certified wood and paper products come from responsibly managed forests – as defined by a particular standard. With third-party forest certification, an independent organization develops standards of good forest management, and independent auditors issue certificates to forest operations that comply with those standards.
A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. Offsets are measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e). One tonne of carbon offset represents the reduction of one tonne of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases.
Silvopasture is the practice of integrating trees, forage, and the grazing of domesticated animals in a mutually beneficial way. It utilizes the principles of managed grazing, and it is one of several distinct forms of agroforestry.
Carbon sequestration or carbon dioxide removal (CDR) is the long-term removal, capture or sequestration of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to slow or reverse atmospheric CO2 pollution and to mitigate or reverse global warming.
Hardwood timber production is the process of managing stands of deciduous trees to maximize woody output. The production process is not linear because other factors must be considered, including marketable and non-marketable goods, financial benefits, management practices, and the environmental implications, of those management practices.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and guide to forestry:
Forest farming is the cultivation of high-value specialty crops under a forest canopy that is intentionally modified or maintained to provide shade levels and habitat that favor growth and enhance production levels. Forest farming encompasses a range of cultivated systems from introducing plants into the understory of a timber stand to modifying forest stands to enhance the marketability and sustainable production of existing plants.
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is a sustainability organization operating in the U.S. and Canada that works across four pillars: standards, conservation, community, and education. SFI is the world's largest single forest certification standard by area. SFI is headquartered in Ottawa and Washington, D.C.
Private landowner assistance program (PLAP) is a class of government assistance program available throughout the U.S. for landowners interested in maintaining, developing, improving and protecting wildlife on their property. Each state provides various programs that assist landowners in agriculture, forestry and conserving wildlife habitat. This helps landowners in the practice of good land stewardship and provides multiple benefits to the environment. Some states offer technical assistance which includes:
The CarbonFix Standard (CFS) is an initiative supported by over 60 organisations promotes the development of climate forestation projects to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. The CarbonFix Standard is administered by CarbonFix, a non-profit association based in Germany.
A mire, peatland or quagmire is a wetland type, dominated by living peat-forming plants. Mires arise because of incomplete decomposition of organic matter, usually litter from vegetation, due to water-logging and subsequent anoxia. All types of mires share the common characteristic of being saturated with water at least seasonally with actively forming peat, while having its own set of vegetation and organisms. Like coral reefs, mires are unusual landforms in that they derive mostly from biological rather than physical processes, and can take on characteristic shapes and surface patterning.
Climate-friendly gardening is gardening in ways which reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from gardens and encourage the absorption of carbon dioxide by soils and plants in order to aid the reduction of global warming. To be a climate-friendly gardener means considering both what happens in a garden and the materials brought into it and the impact they have on land use and climate. It can also include garden features or activities in the garden that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere.
Deforestation is a primary contributor to climate change. Land use changes, especially in the form of deforestation, are the second largest anthropogenic source of atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions, after fossil fuel combustion. Greenhouse gases are emitted during combustion of forest biomass and decomposition of remaining plant material and soil carbon. Global models and national greenhouse gas inventories give similar results for deforestation emissions. As of 2019, deforestation is responsible for about 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Peatland degradation also emits GHG. Growing forests are a carbon sink with additional potential to mitigate the effects of climate change. Some of the effects of climate change, such as more wildfires, may increase deforestation. Deforestation comes in many forms: wildfire, agricultural clearcutting, livestock ranching, and logging for timber, among others. The vast majority of agricultural activity resulting in deforestation is subsidized by government tax revenue. Forests cover 31% of the land area on Earth and annually 75,700 square kilometers of the forest is lost. Mass deforestation continues to threaten tropical forests, their biodiversity and the ecosystem services they provide. The main area of concern of deforestation is in tropical rain forests since they are home to the majority of the planet's biodiversity.
Carbon farming is a name for a variety of agricultural methods aimed at sequestering atmospheric carbon into the soil and in crop roots, wood and leaves. The aim of Carbon farming is develop methods in agricultural practices that will increase the rate at which carbon is sequestered into soil carbon and plant material with the goal of creating a net loss of carbon from the atmosphere from more carbon sequestered than is emitted in. Increasing a soil's organic matter content can aid plant growth, increase total carbon content, improve soil water retention capacity and reduce fertilizer use. As of 2016, variants of carbon farming reached hundreds of millions of hectares globally, of the nearly 5 billion hectares (1.2×1010 acres) of world farmland. In addition to agricultural activities, forests management is also a tool that is used in Carbon farming. The practice of carbon farming is often done by individual land owners who are given incentive to use and to integrate methods that will sequester carbon through policies created by governments. Carbon farming methods will typical have a cost, meaning farmers and land-owners typically need a way in which they can profit from the use of carbon farming and different governments will have different programs.