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Gov. Deal, DNR leaders honor 2017 forestry for wildlife partners

GEORGIA – Gov. Nathan Deal recognized three corporate forest landowners Wednesday for their stewardship and land management practices benefiting wildlife across Georgia.

CatchMark Timber Trust, Weyerhaeuser and Georgia Power were honored by Gov. Deal as 2017 partners in the Forestry for Wildlife Partnership.

Administered by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division, Forestry for Wildlife Partnership is a voluntary program that promotes sustainable forest and wildlife conservation in corporate forestry practices. Partners tailor guidelines to improve management for reforestation, harvesting techniques, recreation, sensitive natural sites and outreach.

Representatives were recognized in a brief ceremony Wednesday at the State Capitol including DNR Commissioner Mark Williams, DNR Wildlife Resources Division Director Rusty Garrison and others.

According to Garrison, Forestry for Wildlife Partnership is a key program involving corporate forest landowners who voluntarily manage their lands to benefit wildlife and Georgians who enjoy that wildlife and the outdoors.“With more than 90 percent of the forestlands in Georgia under private ownership, landowners play a vital role in restoring and conserving natural habitats and wildlife statewide,” he said. “In the case of our Forestry for Wildlife partners, they directly affect wildlife habitat in a positive way on about 1 million acres.”The Wildlife Resources Division recognized Weyerhaeuser, Georgia Power and CatchMark Timber Trust as Forestry for Wildlife Partners for:

  • Preparing wildlife conservation plans that detail natural resource inventories and outline management strategies that combine forest and wildlife aspects.
  • Providing internal training opportunities for employees on how to blend forestland management with wildlife-friendly practices for multiple natural resource benefits.
  • Incorporating wildlife management into land-use planning and timber management practices.
  • Providing valuable data for Wildlife Resources Division research projects.
  • Providing public recreational opportunities on corporate forestlands.
  • Participating in partnerships with conservation organizations.
  • Managing riparian forests for wildlife use and water quality protection.

Habitat abundance and natural quality are the foundation for wildlife. Georgia has more than 24 million acres of forestland. Of that, corporate forest landowners manage about 12 percent.

The work of Forestry for Wildlife partners has benefited gopher tortoises – a keystone species and Georgia’s state reptile – bald eagles and swallow-tailed kites, rare bats, wetlands critical to protected reptiles and amphibians, and high-priority habitats such as Coosa Valley prairie and longleaf pine forest, havens, respectively, for endangered species such as whorled sunflower and red-cockaded woodpecker. The partnerships also provide public opportunities to enjoy the outdoors through wildlife viewing, hunting and fishing.

All of the conservation enhancement components and reporting procedures are compatible with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc., a voluntary approach in the forest industry to maintain high environmental standards on lands managed by corporate landowners.