Certified Forests: preparing private landowners for the future

2007 Annual Report for LS05-171

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2005: $102,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $18,331.00
Region: Southern
State: Mississippi
Principal Investigator:
Glenn Hughes
Mississippi State University Extension Service

Certified Forests: preparing private landowners for the future


This project seeks to identify the potential for certified forest products in Louisiana and Mississippi. In 2007 we 1) conducted 7 workshops in LA and MS, 2) drafted and revised the Forest Certification Handbook and web site, 3) published one article in a peer-reviewed journal and had another accepted for publication, and 4) and presented results to a variety of audiences both domestic and international.

Results from this project will enable landowners to make more informed decisions about whether or not to have their forestland certified. In 2008 we will finalize the remaining parts of the project.

Objectives/Performance Targets

We proposed 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 private, nonindustrial forest (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 2007 we conducted 7 Forest Certification workshops for forest landowners in MS and LA. The format of these workshops included indoor presentations on forest certification, comparison of different certification systems, and the costs and benefits of becoming certified. Some were followed by a field tour of a local certified Tree Farm. The MS workshops were attended by 112 landowners owning 16,874 acres of forestland. They valued the information received at $270,500.

Results from the forest landowner survey were published in the Southern Journal of Applied Forestry. Results from the home center retailer survey were accepted for publication in the Forest Products Journal. Research results were also presented at several conferences in 2007.

A 20-page publication titled “Private Landowners Guide to Forest Certification in the South” was drafted and revised. In addition a web site containing information on forest certification was drafted and revised. Both are currently undergoing final edits.

In 2008 the landowners guide to forest certification will be printed, and the certification web site finalized and made available.

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 forest 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 has and will continue to provide information that landowners and their foresters can use to make more informed decisions about forest certification.


Michael Dunn

[email protected]
Associate Professor, Resource Economics
Louisiana State University Agricultural Center
Dept. of Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness
246 Agricultural Administration Building
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Office Phone: 2255780344
Website: www.lsuagcenter.com/
Richard Vlosky

[email protected]
Dir., Louisiana Forest Products Development Center
Louisiana State University Agricultural Center
School of Renewable Natural Resources
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Office Phone: 2255784527
Website: www.rnr.lsu.edu/lfpdc