Gov. Nathan Deal recognized three corporate forest landowners today for their stewardship and land management practices benefiting Georgia’s wildlife.
Georgia Power, CatchMark Timber Trust and Weyerhaeuser were honored by Gov. Deal as 2016 partners in the Forestry for Wildlife Partnership, a program administered by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
Forestry for Wildlife Partnership is a voluntary program that promotes sustainable forest and wildlife conservation in corporate forestry practices. Partners tailor guidelines to improve management for reforestation, harvesting techniques, recreation, sensitive sites and outreach.
Representatives were recognized in a brief ceremony Wednesday at the State Capitol including DNR Commissioner Mark Williams, Deputy Commissioner Walter Rabon and others.
According to DNR Wildlife Resources Division Director Rusty Garrison, Forestry for Wildlife Partnership is a key program involving corporate forest landowners who voluntarily manage their lands to benefit Georgia wildlife and Georgians who enjoy that wildlife and the outdoors.
“More than 90 percent of forestlands in our state are privately owned,” Garrison said. “Last year, these three Forestry for Wildlife partners had a positive impact for wildlife on about 1 million acres.”
The Wildlife Resources Division recognized CatchMark Timber Trust, Weyerhaeuser (which merged with former program partner Plum Creek in 2016) and Georgia Power as Forestry for Wildlife Partners for:
- Preparing wildlife conservation plans that detail natural resource inventories and outline management strategies that combine forest and wildlife aspects.
- Providing internal training opportunities for employees on how to blend forestland management with wildlife-friendly practices for multiple natural resource benefits.
- Incorporating wildlife management into land-use planning and timber management practices.
- Providing valuable data for Wildlife Resources Division research projects.
- Providing public recreational opportunities on corporate forestlands.
- Participating in partnerships with conservation organizations.
- Managing riparian forests for wildlife use and water quality protection.
Habitat abundance and natural quality are the foundation for wildlife. Georgia has more than 24 million acres of forestland. Of that, corporate forest landowners manage about 12 percent.
The efforts of Forestry for Wildlife partners have benefited red-cockaded woodpeckers, nesting bald eagle and swallow-tailed kites, isolated wetlands critical to protected reptiles and amphibians, and rare remnant Coosa Valley prairies, home to endangered plants. The partnerships also provide the public with opportunities to enjoy the outdoors through wildlife viewing, hunting and fishing.
All of the conservation enhancement components and reporting procedures are compatible with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc., a voluntary approach in the forest industry to maintain high environmental standards on lands managed by corporate landowners.
Call (706) 557-3263 or go to www.georgiawildlife.com for more information about Forestry for Wildlife Partnership or other Wildlife Resources Division Private Lands initiatives. Also see the Nongame Conservation Section’s annual report (www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/AnnualReport) for program details.