Monday, May 3, 2010

APA Offers Sustainable Forestry Programs

Nearly six billion people inhabit our planet and depend on trees for materials to build houses, produce paper, assemble furniture and to simply stay warm. This results in tremendous pressure on the world’s forests and has necessitated the establishment of sustainable forestry management practices.

Sustainable forestry management refers to the attempt to achieve balance between society’s increasing demands for forest products and benefits with the preservation of forest health and diversity. Sustainable forestry management is defined as the stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfill, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national, and global levels, and that do not cause damage to other ecosystems.

Growing environmental awareness and consumer demand for more socially responsible businesses helped third-party forest certification emerge in the 1990s as a credible tool for communicating the environmental and social performance of forest operations. These independent organizations develop standards of good forest management, and through independent auditors issue certificates to forest operations that comply with standards. Certification verifies that forests are well-managed and ensures that certain wood and paper products come from responsibly managed forests.

Today more than 45 certification systems exist worldwide with the American Tree Farm System, Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) most active in New York State and the Adirondack Park. All three of these organizations require compliance with all applicable Federal, State and Local laws in order to receive certification.

The first step to complying with applicable laws is identification of those laws. While forest management activities are not generally regulated by the Adirondack Park Agency, certain forestry uses may trigger Park Agency jurisdiction. To assist forestry professionals and landowners identify applicable laws in their certification efforts, agency staff developed an educational program titled “Promoting Systematic Forest Management Environmental Compliance.”

This program reviews applicable Agency laws and regulations for jurisdictional activities such as: clear cutting, shoreline restrictions, wetlands and Forestry Uses on lands classified as Resource Management. It covers the Adirondack Park Agency Act, NYS Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act and the NYS Freshwater Wetlands Act.

The program is designed for a wide range of forestry professionals and landowners including loggers, foresters, private non-industrial and industrial forest landowners, auditing entities and raw material consumers. It contains valuable information not only for those seeking certification, but also anyone who may be undertaking forest management activities within the Adirondack Park.

To schedule a program presentation, please contact the Adirondack Park Agency at 518.891.4050.

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