A tree farm
is a privately owned forest managed for timber
Timber may refer to:* Timber, a term common in the United Kingdom and Australia for wood materials * Timber, Oregon, an unincorporated community in the U.S...
production. The term tree farm is also used to refer to plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...
s and to tree nurseries.
American Tree Farm System
The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) is the largest and oldest woodland certification system in America. It is internationally recognized by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification and meets strict third-party certification standards. It is one of three certification systems currently recognized in the United States (the others include the Forest Stewardship Council
The Forest Stewardship Council is an international not-for-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. Its main tools for achieving this are standard setting, independent certification and labeling of forest products...
and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative
). ATFS specializes in certifying private forests, primarily those held by individuals and families and currently certifies over 26 million acres (110,000 km2) forestland. The ATFS Standard for Certification is owned by the American Forest Foundation, a national nonprofit organization focused on environmental education and promoting sustainable stewardship of America's woodlands.
The American Tree Farm System was established in 1941 in an effort to promote forest resources on private land, ensuring plentiful fiber production for timber and paper companies. With declining virgin saw timber available, the industry began to promote forestry practices to ensure sufficient fiber production for the future. Prior to 1941, the majority of fiber came from industrial lands. The first tract of land labeled as a Tree Farm was organized and marketed by Weyerhauser Company to help change public attitudes toward timber production and protect natural resources from fire damage. The title of "tree farm" was chosen in large part because Weyehauser Company felt that the 1940s public understood farming as crop production, and similarly tree farming was focused on producing more timber, with frequent replanting post-harvest. The early sponsors of the tree-farming movement defined it as "privately owned forest-land dedicated to the growing of forest crops for commercial purposes, protected and managed for continuous production of forest products." In the early 1940s the concept of "tree-farming" on private land was promoted by the National Lumber Manufacturers Association in an organized campaign to engage timberland owners in conservative timber production.
Throughout its history, ATFS has relied on celebrity Tree Farmers to relay its message to the public. Celebrities include actor Andy Griffith, actress Andie McDowell, former President Jimmy Carter, and Rolling Stone keyboardist Chuck Leavell.
Since 1941, the system has shifted to focus on whole stewardship, rather than strictly fiber production. According to the Standards of Certification for ATFS
, woodland owners must own 10 or more acres and have a management plan. In that management plan, woodland owners must recognize wildlife habitat, protection of water quality, threatened and endangered species, and sustainable harvest levels. The certification standard is subject to multi-stakeholder involvement in the development and revision of the standard, third-party audits, and a publicly available certification of audit summaries.
As a program of the American Forest Foundation (AFF), the American Tree Farm System focuses on the long-term sustainability of America's forests in ecological and economic terms. The vision statement of AFF states, "AFF is committed to creating a future where North American forests are sustained by the public that understand and values the social, economic, and environmental benefits they provide to our communities, our nation, and the world."
The network of over 90,000 woodland owners is organized through state committees and governed at the national level. Currently 45 of the 50 states have committees. Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, North Dakota and Utah currently do not have programs. With national coordination, ATFS strives to "work on-the-ground with families…to promote stewardship and protect our nation's forest heritage." The state networks also include tree farm inspectors, who certify the forests and conduct outreach efforts on behalf of ATFS and partnered organizations.
Each year ATFS hosts a National Tree Farmer Convention and awards an individual or family with the National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award. It also awards a National Outstanding Inspector Award to a resource professional who has demonstrated exceptional outreach efforts to engage landowners and the general public in sustainable forestry.
Tree farming and climate change
Because tree farms are managed to enhance rapid growth, and since rapid growth more or less equals carbon sequestration, tree farms tend to sequester more carbon dioxide than unmanaged forests. This is in part because younger forests absorb more carbon than older forests and managed woodlands tend to be younger.
Carbon dioxide is believed to be the leading greenhouse gas, but is necessary to life. Growing plants convert carbon dioxide to biomass and release it when they decompose or respire. While tree farms absorb large amounts of , the long-term sequestration of this carbon depends on what is done with the harvested materials. Forests continue to absorb atmospheric carbon for centuries if left undisturbed.
The USDA has an online calculator http://www.carbon.sref.info/estimating/calculator
for how much carbon is sequestered in various types of forests.
& Forest Health
Carbon dioxide is primary building material for plant tissue and is required to makes plants grow fast and strong, so presumably higher levels of in the air as a result of burning fossil fuels would make forests grow faster. Duke University did a study where they dosed a loblolly pine
Pinus taeda is one of several pines native to the Southeastern United States, from central Texas east to Florida, and north to Delaware. It is particularly dominant in the eastern half of North Carolina, where there are huge expanses consisting solely of Loblolly Pine trees...
plantation with elevated levels of . http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000811062434.htm
The studies showed that the pines did indeed grow faster and stronger. They were also less prone to damage during ice storms, which is a factor that limits loblolly growth farther north. The forest did relatively better during dry years. The hypothesis is that the limiting factors in the growth of the pines are nutrients such as nitrogen, which is in deficit on much of the pine land in the Southeast. In dry years, however, the trees don’t bump up against those factors since they are growing more slowly because water is the limiting factor. When rain is plentiful trees reach the limits of the site's nutrients and the extra isn’t beneficial.
Most forest soils in Southeastern region are deficient in N and P as well as trace minerals. Pine forests often sit on land that was used for cotton, corn or tobacco. Since these crops depleted originally shallow and infertile soils, tree farmers must work to improve soils.
In addition to better fertilization, biosolids http://www.forestry.vt.edu/BiosolidsWorkshopFox.html
present an innovative solution. Biosolids are treated sewage from municipal or agricultural sources such as chicken and hog operations in Virginia and North Carolina. Though biosolids have the potential to improve soils and lead to improved tree growth barriers to adoption include regulation and inertia.