The American Tree Farm System (ATFS), a program of the American Forest Foundation (AFF), announced on September 20 that 782,489 acres of privately owned Alabama forestlands have been certified by AFTS for their sustainable management practices. The certification of thousands of acres, representing 1,313 different forest properties, was possible thanks to an innovative pilot project involving the Alabama Forestry Commission, the Alabama Forestry Association, Alabama Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Implementation Committee and ATFS. The certification of so many acres makes Alabama a strong competitor to meet increasing global demand for certified timber.

“This project gives a huge boost to Alabama’s ability to complete in the global market for certified timber,” says Bob Simpson, Senior Vice President of Forestry at AFF. “ATFS Certification gives Alabama forest owners new bragging rights. They are telling the world that they’re managing their forestland in a way that has been internationally recognized as sustainable and credible. Certified wood keeps the forest and paper industry strong, competitive and viable, not just in Alabama, but globally.”

Thanks to this project, all Alabama forest owners who are part of the state’s “Treasure Forest” program are now eligible for ATFS certification. A risk assessment conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and paid for by the SFI Implementation Committee determined that the forest management practices required by Alabama’s Treasure Forest program would also meet the strict standards for Tree Farm certification.

“The Alabama Forestry Association is committed to growing the practice and certification of sustainable forestry principles,” says Chris Erwin, Director of Education and Outreach at AFA. “With the completion of this project, Alabama will have six million acres of certified forestland. Thanks to the hard work of the Alabama Tree Farm Committee and the Alabama SFI Implementation Committee, approximately 30% of Alabama’s 22 million forested acres will now be certified as sustainable.”

With the completion of the project in Alabama, and three other pilot projects in Mississippi, Louisiana and Maine, ATFS plans to work with state foresters across the U.S. to certify more privately owned forest acres.