Gov. Nathan Deal recognized three corporate forest landowners today for their stewardship in land management and practices benefiting the state’s wildlife.
Georgia Power, Plum Creek and Wells Timberland were honored by Gov. Deal as 2012 partners in 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 select and tailor guidelines to improve management for reforestation, harvesting techniques, recreation, sensitive sites and outreach.
Company representatives were recognized in a brief ceremony this morning at the State Capitol. DNR Commissioner Mark Williams and DNR Wildlife Resources Division officials joined the presentation.
Plum Creek, Wells Timberland and Georgia Power have helped improve 974,015 acres for wildlife.
Wildlife Resources Division Director Dan Forster noted the value of the scale and commitment represented in the conservation effort. Georgia Power has been involved since Forestry for Wildlife Partnership started in 1999. Plum Creek has been a partner since 2004. This is Wells Timberland’s second year.
“The conservation footprint of the lands involved in Forestry for Wildlife Partnership is significant at close to 1 million acres and comparable in size to the total number of acres of land under our direct control,” Forster said, referring to some 1 million acres the division manages in wildlife management areas.
“Then you look at the longevity of the program now spanning more than a decade and it speaks volumes to (partners’) commitment of wildlife conservation and sustainability. It gives us confidence that this is truly a long-term partnership.”
The Wildlife Resources Division recognized these three companies as Forestry for Wildlife Partners, in part for:
● 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 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 is the key to wildlife abundance. Georgia has more than 24 million acres of forestland. Of that, corporate forest landowners manage about 12 percent.
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 the public with many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, including through hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing.
Examples of partners’ work include:
§ Plum Creek is maintaining habitat at Paulk’s Pasture Wildlife Management Area near Brunswick for Henslow’s sparrows, a secretive songbird. With 10,000 acres in central Georgia, the company has also teamed with the DNR and University of Georgia to study the region’s bear population.
§ Georgia Power is helping the DNR relocate gopher tortoises displaced by development, including restoring 300 acres of longleaf pine as a future site. Staff is also working with the state to place nest boxes critical for kestrels on transmission towers near Butler, Tifton and Douglas.
§ Wells Timberland has protected habitat for endangered fringed campion in Talbot County, and joined with the National Wild Turkey Federation in restoring longleaf pine in sandhill habitats in Marion County.
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 the Forestry for Wildlife Partnership or other private lands initiatives.