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Through best-management practices, educational initiatives and certification programs, Georgia’s forestry industry is experiencing tremendous success in sustainability.

In fact, the Georgia Forestry Association is sharing its accomplishments through a public awareness campaign known as “Sustainable Forest – A Georgia Success Story.” Launched in May 2013, the campaign shows how the state’s forestry industry does more than just cutting down trees for profit. It includes a short documentary that is shown at various presentations and hosted on YouTube.

The message is something worth touting, says Nathan McClure of the Georgia Forestry Commission, which has worked with other agencies to contribute to the GFA-led campaign.

“The latest number, which encompasses the past 10 years, shows that the average amount of trees grown each year [in Georgia] is 19 million tons more than what is harvested,” says McClure, GFC director of forest utilization. “That is expected to come down a little bit, but it’s still going to be positive for many years to come. In other words, there will be more timber grown than timber harvested.”

Many landowners and harvesters learn about responsible practices by participating in certification programs such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative or the American Tree Farm System. They can receive information and guidance on making forests sustainable for timber, wildlife, soil and water conservation, recreation and aesthetic values.

“Our agency, along with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, is responsible for educating loggers on best-management practices,” McClure says. “The implementation rate from loggers is around 95 percent, and most of that is voluntary. So it’s very good.”

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To help level the playing field for the state’s efforts on forest sustainability, Gov. Nathan Deal issued an executive order in fall 2012 directing state buildings to incorporate “Green Building” standards that give certification credits equally to forest products grown, manufactured and certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the American Tree Farm System and the Forest Stewardship Council.

This initiative creates a win-win for the state of Georgia by supporting local tree farmers and ensuring sustainability and energy efficiency for state buildings.

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