Newsletter Stories

Friday, 01 February 2002
Tennessee Certifies All 158,000 Acres of State Forests

In a press conference on January 28th at the state capital building in Nashville, Tennessee, Governor Don Sundquist announced that 100% of TN’s forestland, some 158,000 acres, is undergoing FSC-accredited certification through the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood™ program. Once complete, the certification will make Tennessee the first southern state to have public lands certified in the FSC program. Occurring in seven of the nine major physiographic regions of the state, the certified forestland will be spread across fourteen locations.

Gov. Sundquist also pledged support for a partnership to encourage private landowners to seek certification by FSC. The Pinchot Institute for Conservation, the Lyndhurst Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Fund are sponsoring both the certification and an outreach partnership with the Tennessee Conservation League (TCL).

TCL, a non-profit established in 1946, works with The National Wildlife Federation and The Nature Conservancy to ensure responsible use of TN’s natural resources. They will collaborate with the Tennessee Division of Forestry (TDF) to help private landowners gain access to FSC-certification. Private landowners own 69.4% of Tennessee’s forests.

Many of TN’s state forests contain Natural Heritage sites with rare plant communities. Water quality, habitat diversity and distribution, and cultural and archaeological resource protection are high management priorities. Wildlife is managed for hunting, bird watching, and other recreational activities. Products harvested provide economic benefits and employment opportunities for local communities and helps support TDF management costs. TDF uses state forests to demonstrate forest management practices to the public. TDF foresters help landowners plant trees, develop forest management plans, and find the right resources to practice good stewardship.

Tennessee is first in the country for the production of hardwood flooring and pencils, and second in hardwood production. The $10.1 billion forest industry provides 78,000 jobs, and wood is one of the state’s top five agricultural products. 45% of fiber goes to pulp and paper, 32% to hardwood lumber, 29% to furniture, and 2% to other logging.

There are also now FSC-certified public lands at the municipal and state level in Minnesota, New York, Maine, Pennsylvania, Vermont, California and Massachusetts. In private and public lands at all levels, FSC should complement existing strong environmental laws. Tennessee has now joined a system of over 60-million acres of forestland worldwide that is held to strict environmental standards protected from over-harvesting, and managed in a way to ensure economic health into the future.

"This certification serves as a guarantee to all Tennesseans that only the highest principles and standards are employed in the management of our state forests." 
-- Governor Sundquist, at the January 28th press conference in Nashville, TN

"The certification of Tennessee state lands, once finalized, will represent a major change in forest land management in the South. We believe certification will catch on in the South. Besides state land, there are many private landowners in Tennessee and other states who could benefit from coming under the FSC umbrella." 
-- Hank Cauley, Executive Director, FSC-U.S.