Gov. Nathan Deal recently recognized two corporate forest landowners in Georgia for their stewardship in land management and practices benefiting the state’s wildlife.
Georgia Power and Plum Creek were honored Wednesday, Feb. 9, for participating in the 2010 Forestry for Wildlife Partnership, a program administered by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. The Forestry for Wildlife Partnership is a voluntary annual program that promotes blending wildlife conservation into corporate forestry practices and offers choices through which landowners can build a program compatible with their forest management objectives.
"I applaud both Georgia Power and Plum Creek for their dedicated service to the Forestry for Wildlife Partnership and the state of Georgia," Gov. Deal said Wednesday. “Their longtime commitment to Georgia's forestlands is a vital component to the private sector and the state as a whole."
The companies have helped improve more than 835,000 acres for wildlife. The Wildlife Resources Division recognized the two as Forestry for Wildlife Partners for integrating wildlife conservation practices into their forest management programs. Some of the practices included:
• Preparing wildlife conservation plans that detail natural resources 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 techniques 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 through programs such as Partners in Flight, the Longleaf Alliance and the state Breeding Bird Atlas.
• Managing riparian forests for wildlife use and water quality protection.
Habitat is the key to wildlife abundance. Georgia has more than 24 million acres of forestland. Of that land base, 93 percent is privately owned. Corporate forest landowners manage about 12 percent.
Georgia Power helped develop the Forestry for Wildlife Partnership in the 1990s and Plum Creek joined in 2004. Pointing to that record, Wildlife Resources Division Director Dan Forster said the greatest measure of success in a conservation program is “sustained effort that produces repeatable results.”
“Long-term success means long-term commitment,” Forster said. “And that’s what we have with these partners.”
Conservation efforts benefiting from Forestry for Wildlife include management of endangered red-cockaded woodpecker habitats, bald eagle and swallow-tailed kite nesting, isolated wetlands critical to protected reptiles and amphibians, and rare remnant Coosa Valley prairie and Black Belt prairie habitats containing endangered plants. The partnerships also provide numerous public hunting opportunities.
2010 reviews of Plum Creek’s involvement in the program noted the company’s work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect wading bird rookeries and use of less-intensive site preparations aimed at retaining native groundcover. Among other measures, Georgia Power has expanded its use of prescribed fire and developed conservation partnerships with many groups.
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 (770) 761-1697 or go to www.georgiawildlife.com for more information about Forestry for Wildlife or other private lands initiatives.