World Wildlife Fund (January 28) – According to the latest installment of the World Wildlife Fund’s”Living Forests Report,”paper production and consumption is likely to double in the next three decades, and overall wood consumption may triple.
“A scenario of tripling the amount of wood society takes from forests and plantations needs to motivate good stewardship that safeguards forests, otherwise we could destroy the very places where wood grows,” said Rod Taylor, director of WWF’s Global Forest Program.
…determining exactly how damaging introduced species may be in their new environment has always been something of a challenge for biologists and land managers — until now. Read more… Science Daily
Scientists with Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center have received a three-year, $1.4 million grant to continue their groundbreaking work toward the development of a tree that can be used for preservation of ash in natural and urban forests. The USDA provided the funds. Read more… Farm and dairy
By Jerry L. Adams
KY NRCS State Forestry Coordinator
The Kentucky Natural Resources and Conservation Service continues to support forest resource improvement through its Forestland Initiative under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). KY NRCS obligated $823K in 2011 to fund needed conservation practices identified in either a forest stewardship or forest management plan. Fiscal 2011 saw an increase in applications from woodland owners, totaling $1.4M in requests. Eighty two contracts were awarded statewide to fund 1100 acres of Brush Management (invasive species control), 2750 acres of Forest Stand Improvement and 92 acres of Tree & Shrub Establishment. Additionally, just over $550K was obligated from the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) for forestry related practices.
Woodland owners compete statewide among other woodland owners for EQIP funding. This change, along with the establishment of the Forestland Initiative by KY NRCS, demonstrates its commitment to addressing the resource concern issues woodland owners are experiencing. Although funding for FY2012 is still undetermined, sources indicate that there should be little reduction in program dollars. Woodland owners with stewardship and forest management plans containing recommended conservation practices eligible through EQIP should complete a 2012 funding application at any time by stopping by their local USDA Service Center.
Woodland owners with outdated stewardship/forest management plans should consider applying to EQIP for a Conservation Activity Plan -Forest Management (CAP-FM). The CAP-FM is a forest management plan developed by a private consultant forester certified as a Technical Service Provider (TSP) through NRCS. Plans older than 5 years are eligible for the CAP-FM. Woodland owners are free to chose any one of the currently eight TSPs available in KY to complete the plan. Once completed, any CAP-FM recommended practices the TSP identifies can be addressed in future EQIP contracts.
Several actions taken by or against the US Environmental Protection Agency last spring regarding water quality could ultimately affect timber harvest and woodlands management practices.
The EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued draft guidance in April on what constitutes the EPA’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. EPA describes “other waters” as “all other waters such as intrastate lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams),mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, or natural ponds, the use, degradation or destruction of which could affect interstate or foreign commerce…” The guidance proposes to substantially broaden EPA’s jurisdiction over water resources on private lands.
EPA was also petitioned in April to establish numeric water quality limits for nutrients in the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast of Mexico.
Finally, the agriculture industry is suing the EPA to contest the agency’s novel, multi-state watershed pollution limit for nutrients and sediments in the Chesapeake Bay.
Although most of the above actions do not directly affect Kentucky woodland owners, the impending decisions may have broad implications for all private landowners.
From the USDA Office of Environmental Markets (OEM):
We’re pleased to share with you a new report produced by EcoAgriculture Partners with funding and support from OEM and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities. Innovations in Watershed-Based Conservation in the United States: Payments for Watershed Services for Agricultural and Forest Landowners surveys payments for watershed services (PWS) schemes to understand their current role in the U.S. and future potential for increasing cost-effective watershed protection on private lands.
Water is crucial for many human needs; yet water resources in the United States face serious threats from increasing pollution and overuse. PWS can address these challenges effectively as a complement to USDA conservation programs and other existing incentives. Under PWS programs, farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners can choose to provide watershed protection services—improvements to water quality or increases in water efficiency—and in return receive payments or other forms of compensation from the beneficiaries of these services. PWS can be more affordable than traditional engineering solutions while offering co-benefits including job creation, economic development, cleaner air, and open space.
In addition to the report, a map-based inventory of the identified PWS systems (http://www.conservationregistry.org/search/basic_search?search_term=pws) is available online through The Conservation Registry, a repository of conservation projects in the United States. The PWS inventory is a “living” database and can be updated regularly. Combined, the report and inventory are intended to help policymakers, landowners, conservationists, and water management professionals explore PWS opportunities in their areas.
Many thanks to EcoAgriculture Partners, the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, and the PWS practitioners who supported this project for their hard work!
USDA Office of Environmental Markets
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack made a major announcement March 30th strongly promoting wood as a green building material and recognizing multiple green building rating systems. According to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the USDA announcement was made during the International Year of Forests celebration in Washington, DC. The event was co-hosted by the American Forest Foundation, the National Association of State Foresters, and the USDA Forest Service.
According to a March 30th USDA press release Secretary Vilsack laid out a three-part plan addressing the Forest Service’s and USDA’s current green building practices. The strategy includes the following parts:
1. The U.S. Forest Service will preferentially select wood in new building construction while maintaining its commitment to certified green building standards. USDA will also make a commitment to using wood and other agricultural products as it fulfills President Obama’s executive order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.
2. The Secretary has asked the U.S. Forest Service to examine ways to increase its already strong commitment to green building by reporting to him on ways to enhance the research and development being done around green building materials.
3. The U.S. Forest Service will actively look for opportunities to demonstrate the innovative use of wood as a green building material for all new structures of 10,000 square feet or more using recognized green building standards such as LEED, Green Globes or the National Green Building Standard.
The plan explicitly recognizes the Green Globes standard and the National Green Building Standard, both of which recognize multiple forest certification standards. Opening the door to other green building rating systems increases opportunities for third party certified wood to be used and recognized in green buildings.
“This is just the market signal we need to expand markets for sustainably grown wood from ATFS,” said Tom Martin, President and CEO of the American Forest Foundation.
America’s neighborhoods and forests are under attack. The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) beetle has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees. Help the USDA protect our trees — and stop the beetle. Look for signs of the EAB in your community and report both positive and negative findings at BeetleDetectives.com on behalf of your organization. Then watch your organization rise through the ranks of top beetle detectives.
Identifying the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle (EAB)
From May to August, adult EAB emerge from under the bark of ash
trees and mate. Females lay their eggs in bark crevices and the eggs
hatch into wormlike larvae. The larvae tunnel under the bark to feed
and grow throughout the fall and winter. It is this tunneling and feeding
that eventually kills the tree. You should capture the insects you think
are EAB, place them in a jar and freeze them — this will preserve
the insect for easy identification. You can also search for signs of
• Bright, metallic green
• 1/2” long, flattened back
• Purple abdominal segments beneath wing cover
ATFS is very pleased to announce the availability of the new national management plan template in partnership with the US Forest Service (USFS) and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). The three organizations recognized that having three separate management plan requirements for ATFS certification, NRCS financial assistance funds and Forest Service Stewardship program funds inhibited participation by forest owners in these programs. We worked together to develop a national model management plan template that can be used for any of the three programs. This collaborative decision will help minimize costs and redundant processes. The template includes a guide for both landowners and foresters in using this new tool.
The new management plan template was developed to help landowners be more engaged in the plan writing process. We have heard from many landowners and foresters across the country that some management plans are not used by landowners because they do not understand what is in the plan or they find it intimidating because they had no hand in drafting the plan. In the template guides we developed for foresters and landowners, we encourage landowners to seek out the assistance of a professional. We hope that the template format will help you reach more landowners by cultivating more informed and engaged landowners.
Please visit www.treefarmsystem.org/Nationalplantemplate for a copy.
As the program rolls out the plan will streamline access for folks in the system to apply for cost-share dollars for their conservation work.
Local, state and federal government efforts to rein in spending has meant the disappearance of hundreds of forester positions. Combined with the very limited number of forester TSPs, woodland owners have been left with fewer options to get conservation plans and technical assistance for cost-share dollars. The MOU allows additional training for Tree Farm Inspectors to attain TSP status.
Regardless of the number of acres, woodland owners need to make arrangements for their estates while they are living and while they are competent to do so. An extensive guide is now available from the US Forest Service specifically for family-owned forests.
Estate Planning for Forest Landowners:
What Will Become of Your Timberland?
2009. General Technical Report SRS-112
Available as a pdf download at http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/gtr/gtr_srs112.pdf
Although the report is more geared to large working timber holdings, its comparison examples of the impact of federal estate tax on family assets with and without estate planning are chilling. In the scenario (chapter 19) with no estate plan estate taxes could equal nearly one-eighth of the original estate. In the second example a simple plan leaving the estate to the surviving spouse avoids immediate estate tax. But the subsequent demise of that spouse could incur an estate tax equal to nearly one-fourth of the original combined estate. The final scenario presents three strategies that could reduce the example family estate tax bill by nearly $1.5 million compared to the simple plan. (These hypothetical examples are based on a family forest estate with assets valued at $10 million.)
The planning guide states that on the national level nearly three-fifths of all forest land is privately owned. More than four-fifths of that land belongs to nonindustrial owners. It also finds that the typical nonindustrial private forest owner is 60 years old. The importance of and urgency for timely forest estate planning should by now be evident. If you are still thinking it’s somebody else’s problem, complete the thirteen question “estate planning readiness” quiz on page 5 to better understand where you are in the process.
According to the book’s abstract, its purpose is to provide quidelines and assistance to nonindustrial private forest owners and the legal, tax, financial, insurance and forestry professionals who serve them on the application of estate planning techniques to forest properties. The book presents a working knowledge of the federal estate and gift tax law as of September 30, 2008.