Certified Forests: preparing private landowners for the future
This combined research and extension effort seeks to identify the potential for certified forest products in Louisiana and Mississippi. To date we have 1) developed and distributed 500 mail surveys to major US home retail centers, 2) received and summarized results from the home retail center surveys, 3) developed and distributed 2,400 mail surveys to forest landowners in Louisiana and Mississippi, 4) received and summarized results from the forest landowner surveys, 5) conduced one and planned six more forest certification workshops in LA and MS, and 6) submitted journal articles summarizing the research results and presented results of this work at several conferences.
Results from this project will enable landowners to make a more informed decision about whether or not to have their forestland certified. In 2007 we will present results through a variety of outreach and education formats.
We propose a combined research and outreach effort on the potential for certified forest products in Louisiana and Mississippi. The goal of this two-year effort is to a) determine the current and future acceptance of forest certification systems among major retailers, and b) help PNIF landowners make informed decisions about whether or not their lands should be certified, and by what system(s). Products and results from this effort can than be used in other southern states.
Specific research objectives include:
1. identifying current certification systems accepted by major retailers;
2. determining if major retailers will recognize additional certification systems; and
3. determining PNIF landowner familiarity with and knowledge of forest certification.
Specific outreach objectives include:
1. conducting 6 workshops for PNIF landowners on forest certification;
2. preparing a forest landowners guide to forest certification for southern states;
3. enhancing landowner access to markets for certified forest products; and
4. developing and implementing instruments that will measure outreach effectiveness.
In 2006 we summarized results from the home retail center and forest landowner surveys. Results from these surveys were distributed through news releases, presented at several conferences, and developed into 2 manuscripts and submitted for review.
The first of 6 Forest Certification Workshops was held in November of 2006 in Jasper County, Mississippi. This workshop was attended by 22 forest landowners owning 1,820 acres of forestland. The format of this workshop included indoor presentations on forest certification, comparison of different certification systems, and the costs and benefits of becoming certified. This was followed by a field tour of a local certified Tree Farm.
In 2007 the remaining workshops will be held, a landowners guide to certification developed, and a certification web site developed.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Certification is an emerging issue in forestry, and forest products companies receive increasing demands from clients about providing certified forest products. Recent actions involving names such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Time, Inc., Harry Potter, Victoria’s Secret, Bank of America, and others indicates that the demand for certified forest products will continue to increase.
Landowners in the South face a dilemma because 1) most major forest certification systems focus on large forest landowners (industry, governmental, and non-governmental ownership), 2) most forestland in the South is in smaller parcels owned by private, non-industrial landowners, and 3) the lack of economies of scale makes certification a challenge for the small forest landowner. This project will help private landowners better understand certification and its application on their land.
The home retail center survey concluded that certification is something that is expected to increase. This, coupled with long-term management objectives typical of forestry enterprises, creates an opportunity for landowners wanting to retain access to diverse markets in the future. This project will provide information that landowners and their foresters can use to make more informed decisions about forest certification.