Tuesday, 16 May 2023
FSC Meets with Stakeholders in Georgia
By Tom Kain
In April 2023, the FSC US Board of Directors held a quarterly meeting in Stone Mountain, GA. In addition to its essential duties, the board prioritized listening and engaging with the FSC community in the region. In a daylong forest tour and a stakeholder reception, the board learned about trends in forest management in the South and heard about the opportunities, challenges, and demands facing FSC US in the southern US.
The field tour was held at the BF Grant Wildlife Management Area near Eatonton, GA, an 11,400-acre forest owned by the University of Georgia. Mike Hunter, the lands and facilities director for the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at UGA,
and his staff manage properties that span over 20,000 acres across the state of Georgia for teaching, natural resource management research, recreation, and outreach activities. This property is co-managed by the University of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division. Although BF Grant is currently not certified to the FSC Forest Management, it provides an opportunity to research forest management and share the benefits of sustainable forestry to the public.
The tour started with an explanation of a planting density study that has been active for forty years and maintained by the Plantation Management Research Cooperative (PMRC) at the University of Georgia. Research plots were established at pine planting densities ranging from 100 to 1,000 trees per acre. Spencer Peay of PMRC explained the study design, treatments, and results. This type of research is valuable for family forest landowners across the region, as well as for growth and yield modeling and forestry extension agents.
Dr. James Johnson, a wildlife biologist from UGA discussed the importance of having a mosaic of habitat types to support a wide variety of plants and animals. Standing in one spot, board members were able to see the 40-year-old PMRC stand density study, a 15-year-old pine planting, a hardwood bottom, and a three-year-old pine planting. The property also has a 45-acre waterfowl area that consists of an open water pond, a green tree reservoir, and a moist impoundment that is critical to maintaining the biodiversity of this working forest. Dr. Johnson explained to the group the need for a variety of habitats to support the seasonality of animal uses and plant diversity.
The next stop was the office of Georgia-Pacific in downtown Atlanta. The board listened to the challenges, demand drivers, and opportunities Georgia-Pacific faces across a variety of business segments to secure enough FSC-certified material. Eric Lantz, the head of the group FSC Forest Management certificate, talked about the task of growing the FSC group with family forest owners in the South. John Mulcahy, VP of ESG and Stewardship, and David Brabham, Director of ESG and Stewardship Strategy discussed the role of FSC certification in the broader company's environmental, social, governance, and stewardship goals. The FSC US Board and the Georgia-Pacific leadership team had a very positive discussion about the role FSC plays in manufacturing and within the wider stewardship goals of Georgia Pacific.
Our final event for the day was an evening stakeholder reception at Monday Night Garage in Atlanta. The event provided an opportunity for stakeholders and certificate holders to have direct access to the FSC US board members to discuss the direction of FSC in the United States and other topics of interest.
In a country as large and diverse as the United States, these regional meetings are an important way for the leadership of FSC to recognize and embrace opportunities, as well as to fine tune FSC to meet stakeholder needs.