Tree farm

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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.

Contents

Ownership

As of 2019, an estimated 49% of forests in the United States are owned by families. [1]

Notable corporations include Greenwood Resources, which is owned by TIAA-CREF. [2]

American Tree Farm System

An ATFS-certified tree farm in Virginia provides a variety of habitats for wildlife while producing wood Soft edge road.jpg
An ATFS-certified tree farm in Virginia provides a variety of habitats for wildlife while producing wood

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.

History

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. [3] 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." [4] 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. [5] 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. [6] 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. [7]

Current

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. [8] 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. [8] 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. [9]

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." [10]

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." [11] 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. [12]

Tree farming and climate change

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. [13] The fact that managed woodlands tend to be younger and younger trees grow faster and die less contributes to this distinction. [14]

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. [15]

The USDA has an online calculator for how much carbon is sequestered in various types of forests. [16]

CO
2
and forest health

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
. [17] 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, biosolids [18] present 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.

See also

Related Research Articles

Carbon sink reservoir absorbing more carbon from than emitting to the air, storing carbon over the long term

A carbon sink is any reservoir, natural or otherwise, that absorbs more carbon than it releases, 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 Land regeneration method

Reforestation is the natural or intentional restocking of existing forests and woodlands (forestation) that have been depleted, usually through deforestation. Reforestation can be used to rectify the effects of deforestation or improve the quality of human life by soaking up pollution and dust from the air, rebuilding natural habitats and ecosystems, mitigating global warming since forests facilitate biosequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and harvesting for resources, particularly timber, but also non-timber forest products. In the beginning of the 21st century more attention is given to the ability of reforestation to mitigate climate change as one of the best methods to do it.

Plantation Long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale

A plantation is a large-scale estate 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

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.

Forest Stewardship Council organisation promoting and certifying responsible management of forest

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit, multistakeholder organization established in 1993 that claims to promote responsible management of the world's forests.

Old-growth forest A forest that has attained great age without significant disturbance

An old-growth forest — also termed primary forest, virgin forest, primeval forest, late seral forest, or forest primeval — is a forest that has attained great age without significant disturbance and thereby exhibits unique ecological features and might be classified as a climax community. Old-growth features include diverse tree-related structures that provide diverse wildlife habitat that increases the biodiversity of the forested ecosystem. Virgin forests are old-growth forests that have never been logged. The concept of diverse tree structure includes multi-layered canopies and canopy gaps, greatly varying tree heights and diameters, and diverse tree species and classes and sizes of woody debris.

Certified wood

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.

Carbon offset reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for or to offset an emission made elsewhere

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

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 Methods of reducing net emissions by capturing and storing large volumes of carbon dioxide

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.

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 North American 'forest certification standard' and program of SFI Inc., a non-profit organization. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative is the world's largest single forest certification standard by area. The SFI is headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario Canada and Washington D.C. USA.

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:

Biosequestration Biochemistry-based climate change mitigation strategy

Biosequestration is the capture and storage of the atmospheric greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by continual or enhanced biological processes.

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.

Mire Wetland terrain without forest cover, dominated by living, peat-forming plants

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.

Deforestation and global warming Relationship between deforestation and global warming

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. Although deforestation and peatland degradation are only about 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions as of 2019, growing forests are also 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.

Winner of the U.S. Department of State's 2014 Award for Corporate Excellence , founded in 2010 by Troy Wiseman and Camille Rebelo, EcoPlanet Bamboo has pioneered the industrialization of bamboo as an alternative fiber for timber manufacturing industries. To date the Company has 37,250 acres of bamboo farms under ownership, in Central American, Western and Southern Africa, with larger scale plantations underway.

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. Increasing soil's carbon content can aid plant growth, increase soil organic matter (improving agricultural yield), improve soil water retention capacity and reduce fertilizer use (and the accompanying emissions of greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N
2
O
). 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. Soils can contain up to five per cent carbon by weight, including decomposing plant and animal matter and biochar.

References

  1. "Family Forest Owners: The Critical Link to Forest Resources".
  2. "Portland's GreenWood Resources nears $1B in timber assets". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  3. "American Tree Farm System Turns 70," The Forest History Society, 2011.
  4. Sharp, Paul F. 1949. "The Tree Farm Movement: Its Origin and Development," Agricultural History , 23: 41-45 (January).
  5. "American Tree Farm System Timeline," Forest History Society
  6. "American Tree Farm System History," Forest History Society
  7. "New Collection: American Tree Farm System Records," The Forest History Society Blog, 2010.
  8. 1 2 Standards of Certification for ATFS, American Forest Foundation
  9. "Forest Ag Program - Colorado State Forest Service - Colorado State University". Csfs.colostate.edu. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
  10. American Forest Foundation website
  11. American Tree Farm System website
  12. American Tree Farm System website
  13. Bowyer, Jim. 2011. "Managing Forests for Mitigating Climate Change," Dovetail Partners.
  14. McKinley, Duncan C.; et al. (2011). "A synthesis of current knowledge on forests and carbon storage in the United States" (PDF). Ecological Applications. 21 (6): 1902–1924. doi:10.1890/10-0697.1 . Retrieved 9 March 2013.
  15. Luyssaert, Sebastiaan; -Detlef Schulze, E.; Börner, Annett; Knohl, Alexander; Hessenmöller, Dominik; Law, Beverly E.; Ciais, Philippe; Grace, John (11 September 2008). "Old-growth forests as global carbon sinks". Nature. 455 (7210): 213–215. doi:10.1038/nature07276. PMID   18784722.
  16. USDA carbon sequestration calculator Archived 8 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  17. "Duke Study Shows Carbon Dioxide Boosts Pine Tree Reproduction". Sciencedaily.com. 16 August 2000. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
  18. Biosolids Workshop, Virginia Tech Archived 2 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine