Southern Cumberlands Chuck Sutherland Crp

Conservation Forestry Network Hosts Workshop on Managing Forests for Multiple Values in the Southern Cumberland Plateau

Image Credit: Chuck Sutherland

New York, NY - May 27, 2008 - On May 27-29, the Conservation Forestry Network is hosting a forestry workshop to address the continuing conversion of forestland on the Southern Cumberland Plateau. This practical, field-based workshop to be held at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, will discuss skills, methods and new strategies to work with forestland and landowners to support the natural and economic productivity of forests.

"The most significant threat facing Tennessee's forests is conversion to non-forest use,” said David Arnold, Assistant State Forester, Tennessee Division of Forestry. 

“As foresters, we need to be prepared to help forest landowners maintain and enhance the forestland values they hold and treasure. Doing so will encourage landowners to maintain their forests as forests.   Information presented during the Conservation Forestry Network's Southern Cumberlands workshop will enhance our ability to help a broader scope of forest landowners meet their management objectives".

Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau covers 6,875 square miles with nearly ninety percent of forestland in private hands. It contains some of the most biologically rich hardwood forests in North America’s temperate zone. 

The workshop will use forests in the University of the South’s Domain and U.S. Forest Service land in Jackson County, AL as a virtual class room to explore specific management practices that expand the broad array of values offered by forests.

The Conservation Forestry Network (CFN) believes that managing forests well ecologically does not have to come at economic cost. This workshop is designed to guide foresters from the for-profit, nonprofit, and government sectors on how to identify and restore habitat by recruiting and retaining certain key structures and accommodating key ecological processes.

This workshop builds upon an ongoing training program on conservation forestry organized by the CFN with support from the Forest Service Northern Research Station and others. Other regional workshops have been conducted in Oregon, Maine, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The Open Space Institute (OSI), a non-profit land trust, Interforest LLC, a private consulting forestry company, and the Forest Guild, a professional organization for forest stewards, together with a local advisory committee are organizing the workshop.

“There have been significant advances in the field of applied forest ecology over the last 10 years,” said Michael Ferrucci, president of Interforest. “Yet this knowledge has not always been transferred to the foresters making decisions on the ground. Conservation forestry is very different than the sustained yield principles developed for commodity production that most of us foresters were trained in years ago,” Ferrucci added.

Increasingly, forest managers, policy makers and landowners around the country are looking at natural disturbance for insight in designing silvicultural treatments for long term forest management. The discipline of Conservation, and sometimes named, Ecological Forestry is emerging to provide a sound scientific underpinning and to guide forest managers in incorporating lessons learned from natural disturbance regimes.  Basic research in this field enables the analysis of key characteristics of undisturbed forest systems, disturbance events and ecological responses.

“Future financial investment in forestland won’t be based on timber alone,” said Peter Howell, vice president for Conservation Finance at OSI. “Forestland owners, regardless of whether they are public, nonprofit, or private organizations, need to be aware of how to protect all the assets on their land. In the future, water, habitat, and carbon are going to be increasingly important assets to forestland owners.”

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