ATLANTA – Gov. Brian Kemp recognized three corporate forest landowners today for their stewardship and land management practices benefiting wildlife across Georgia. Georgia Power, Weyerhaeuser and CatchMark Timber Trust were honored as 2018 partners in the Forestry for Wildlife Partnership.
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 natural sites and outreach.
The 2018 partners were recognized in a brief ceremony Tuesday at the State Capitol including DNR Commissioner Mark Williams, DNR Wildlife Resources Division Director Rusty Garrison and others.
Garrison explained that working with private landowners to benefit wildlife and natural habitats is critical because more than 90 percent of Georgia’s land is in private ownership.
“Forestry for Wildlife Partnership involves corporate forest landowners who voluntarily manage their lands to benefit wildlife and the Georgians who enjoy that wildlife and the outdoors,” he said. “And our 2018 partners are among the largest landowners in Georgia, directly affecting wildlife habitat on about 1 million acres.”
The Wildlife Resources Division recognized Weyerhaeuser, CatchMark Timber Trust 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 work of Forestry for Wildlife partners has helped gopher tortoises – Georgia’s state reptile – rare bats, endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers, wetlands crucial to protected reptiles and amphibians, and other high-priority habitats such as Coosa Valley prairie, home to rare species such as whorled sunflower. The partnerships also provide public 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.