As we near the end of 2019, the Southern Group of State Foresters (SGSF) is thankful for the many partnerships that we have developed and joined over the years. SGSF members realized many years ago that we could not solve complex forestry issues in the South by working in our professional silos. The SGSF was created to share talent, strengths, and ideas to make all southern state forestry agencies better at conserving, protecting, and enhancing our forests.
The SGSF has a long-standing partnership with the United States Forest Service (USFS) to deliver programs to private landowners. Congress, recognizing the importance of managing the vast amount of US forestland in private ownership, passed the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978. This Act consolidated State and Private Forestry programs in the USFS and developed a partnership with state forestry agencies to deliver programs to landowners on a variety of forestry issues, including forest management and stewardship, fire protection, insect and disease control, reforestation and stand improvement, and urban forestry. SGSF enjoys a strong partnership with the regional office of the USFS in Atlanta to address these forestry issues.
Working with private landowners is key to achieving our goals. Recognizing that other public and private groups are also trying to help forest landowners, we continually reach out to these groups to build stronger partnerships.
Keeping Forests as Forests is a partnership aimed at helping landowners in the South combat projected loss of southern forests and maintain their long-term economic and ecological viability. The Southern Forest Futures Project estimates that by 2060 the South will lose between 11 and 23 million acres to suburban encroachment. This partnership is supported by a diverse coalition of private and public stakeholders ranging from human health professionals to traditional forest products manufacturers and conservationists. This uniquely diverse partnership has coalesced around a common appreciation for the ecological, economic, and social importance of our southern forests — and the need to develop new and innovative financial and policy approaches to its long-term stewardship.
So, as we near the end of one decade and begin a new one, SGSF members are thankful for the many partnerships that we have, and we look forward to building on these in the future.