DELLROY, Ohio – Forest certification is an emerging trend but the American Tree Farm System has been on the right track for decades.
Pressure from environmental groups is pushing the industry toward certification, said Stephanie Brown, director of the system.
Major forest product purchasers like Time Warner, Home Depot and Staples want to be known as environmentally friendly companies and are demanding wood from certified tree farms, the director said.
Because Ohio has one of the strongest tree farm programs in the country, many Ohio farms already have that certification, Brown told the East Central Ohio Forestry Association at its annual banquet May 5.
Being a part of the tree farm system used to be a way for landowners “to feel warm and fuzzy, but now it’s becoming a part of business,” she said.
Plus it’s giving tree farmers worldwide market access, she continued.
Diamond’s proof. Certified operations receive a diamond-shaped tree farm sign that proves the landowners follow environmentally sustainable practices. Foresters inspect the tree farm every five years.
The free certification is voluntary and is one of the main benefits of being part of the tree farm system, Brown told approximately 100 tree farmers and foresters at the banquet.
“That sign is a stamp of approval,” she said.
By having the green and white sign at the end of the drive, tree farmers hope other landowners will start taking care of their forests, too.
Approximately 1,800 Ohio tree farms are certified, and two more joined the ranks during the banquet.
Richard and Vonda Burch of Howard, Ohio, received certification for their 26-acre tree farm. And Rob and Pat Davis of Akron received certification for their 284-acre operation in Harrison County.
Higher bars, crossbars. Recently revised certification standards raised the bar, Brown said.
There are now minimum education and experience requirements for foresters and there is a national training curriculum for inspectors.
Brown also announced a new aspect of the certification sign. A crossbar that says “certified family forest” is now available to add to the bottom of the sign.
Ask for them from the Ohio Forestry Association at 614-497-9580.
(Reporter Kristy Hebert welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 23, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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