Amid the pine plantations that comprise 21% of South Carolina’s forests, and the naturally brown, tannin-rich blackwater river systems that dominate the southern section of the state’s Coastal Plain, there is now an FSC-certified forest. Last month, SmartWood completed the certification of Kearse Land and Timber Corporation’s (KLT) 6,400 acres, marking the first FSC-accredited forest certification in the state.
Approximately 66% of South Carolina’s total area is forested, with non-industrial private owners (NIPFs) owning 70% of these forests. Over half of the woodlots are less than 100 acres, exemplifying the importance of small woodlot owner certification in the US. In South Carolina, the Edisto, Coowashatchie, and Salkehatchie Rivers create favorable floodplains for hardwoods, and in the previously farmed upland areas, pine seeds naturally or is planted. KLT’s forest is a mix of these ecological effects: in the bottomland Coastal Plain region, 3,737 acres of hardwood heavy to oak, and in the upland region, 2,016 acres of softwood heavy to loblolly pine. Most of the hardwood is second growth due to intensive logging by the previous owners at the turn of the century.
KLT now harvests an average of 5,000 m3 of hardwood and 4,000 m3 of softwood annually, or 54% and 61% of annual growth, respectively. They harvest pine for posts, pulpwood, and sawtimber, and poplar, red gum, black gum, and oak for veneer.
Utilizing the non-timber resources of their forest is important to KLT. They have dedicated about 600 acres to conservation, buffering, and streamside management. Rather than catering to high-paying weekend hunters with little stake in the local environment, KLT gives inexpensive permits to local hunters to encourage community access and respectful resource use. Local fishermen are granted access to streams on the property. Forest managers work with the Audubon Society to study the presence of neotropical birds and their habitat.
For more information on this certification, check out the public summary onwww.smartwood.org or email Loy Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.