U.S. Forest Service
The South has some of the most dynamic, diverse, complex, and productive forestlands in the nation. Eighty-nine percent of the South's 212 million acres of forestland is privately owned. These forests provide a significant measure of the nation's demand for goods and services such as clean water, fresh air, wildlife, recreation, wood fiber, and jobs.
Southern forests contribute $211 billion annually to the nation's economy
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The U.S. Forest Service Southern Region encompasses 13 States—from Virginia to Florida and Texas – as well as Puerto Rico. Also known as Region 8, the Southern Region is one of nine geographical regions within the Forest Service. The State and Private Forestry (S&PF) organization works in partnership with SGSF to help sustain the South's forests and protect communities and the environment from wildland fires. Through programs outlined below, S&PF brings forest management assistance and expertise to a diversity of landowners and natural resource managers.
The Cooperative Forestry staff of the U.S. Forest Service works with states, private landowners, and other partners to promote healthy forests and livable communities.
Landowner Assistance Programs help private landowners protect, improve, restore, and sustain forests.
- The Forest Legacy Program (FLP) protects private forest lands from being converted to nonforest uses.
- The Forest Stewardship Program (FSP) helps private forest landowners develop plans for the sustainable management of their forests.
- The Forestland Enhancement Program (FLEP) provides educational, technical, and financial assistance to help private forest landowners implement their sustainable forestry management objectives.
Economic Action Programs such as Rural Community Assistance programs help rural communities and businesses dependent on forest-based resources become sustainable and self-sufficient. The Forest Products Conservation and Recycling program helps communities and businesses find new and expanded business opportunities based on forest resources and the Market Development and Expansion program helps develop new markets for forest-based goods and services.
State Fire Assistance provides financial and technical assistance to states and local fire departments for wildland fire management. Through state partners, the Forest Service also helps rural and volunteer fire departments with grants, training, and equipment.
Forest Health Protection (FHP) protects and improves the health of America’s rural, wildland, and urban forests. Through Forest Health Management, Forest Health Monitoring, Pesticide Use Management and Technology Development programs, FHP provides forest insect, disease and invasive plant survey and monitoring information, and technical and financial assistance to prevent, suppress and control outbreaks threatening forest resources.
Urban & Community Forestry promotes the creation of healthier, more livable urban environments by maintaining, restoring, and improving the health of urban trees, forests, greenspaces and sustainable forest ecosystems.
Conservation Education program (CE) helps people of all ages understand and appreciate our country's natural resources -- and learn how to conserve those resources for future generations. Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, and Junior Forest Ranger, as part of the National Symbols program, are included in the CE program's responsibilities.
Research and Development
The Southern Research Station is part of the Nation's largest forestry research organization - USDA Forest Service Research and Development - the leading organization for research on natural resource management and sustainability in the United States. Headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina, SRS conducts forestry research that emphasizes measuring and monitoring forest resources; understanding ecosystem structure, function, and processes; managing resources for sustained and enhanced productivity; and protecting environmental quality. The Station conducts forestry research in the 13 Southern States: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
An ongoing census providing information to protect forest sustainability.
The South's forests are undergoing rapid change. Urbanization, the absence of fire, harvesting, fragmentation, introduction of exotic plants, diseases, and insects, forest ownership, and forest uses are but a few components of this change.
SGSF, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service's Southern Research Station, Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Research Work Unit, conducts a continuous inventory to measure the status of the South's forest resources and evaluate effects of changes. Data to determine forest area, growth, volume, removals, composition and mortality of forests, as well as land use changes and potential for wildfire is collected annually on 10 to 20% of a series of permanently established plots from the South's woodlands.
FIA provides objective and scientifically credible information, and is part of the universal benchmark for measuring the sustainability and success of natural resource and land management practices. The accurate and timely results help landowners make informed decisions about managing their land, provide a basis for environmental policy makers and regulators to develop public policy on forest use, and serve as a valuable resource for leaders making economic development decisions.
Click on a state to view survey data and information
The Southern Forest Futures Project is evaluating the implications of potential futures for the many goods and services southern forests provide. It builds on the Southern Forest Resource Assessment (SFRA; Wear and Greis 2002a, 2002b) which identified several forces of change reshaping forests and the potential implications for economic conditions and ecological services. More than 2,000 comments were collected from public meetings to form a comprehensive view of how forces of change may reshape forests, and how these changes could affect the various goods, services, and values of forest ecosystems over the next half century and beyond. These topics of concern include bioenergy, climate change, forest ownership change, invasive species, fire, taxes, and water.
The first finalized report, The Southern Forest Futures Project: Using Public Input to Define the Issues, presents an overview of the Project, a description of the public participation process and how public comments have provided the foundation for subsequent phases of the effort. Input on meta-issues, forces of change, and resource implications will be used to organize subsequent stages of the Southern Forest Futures Project.
Bioenergy from woody biomass has the potential of contributing to the Nation's energy supply, where it can play a significant role in the mixture of “green,” renewable energy sources used in the future. Given the South's abundance of wood sources, the biomass industry has the potential to not only provide energy, but produce jobs in small communities across the region.
The South is already producing an array of wood energy products including: wood pellets, hog fuel for process heat, and wood chips for electricity generation. New facilities are under construction to produce ethanol and bio-diesel from wood chips. With the southern United States serving as the Nation's “woodbasket,” producing more than half of all forest products, the “wood to energy” industry is a new opportunity for economic utilization of forest resources in the region.
SRS scientists are working to increase the knowledge and technology related to biomass energy conversion as well as calculating and estimating biomass production and costs. In addition, the Station provides industry and others with valuable information regarding the use of biomass/bioenergy industry in the South.
Courtesy: U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station