WASHINGTON – The Land Trust of Tennessee, the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust and Wildlands Network received a Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) conservation grant today in support of their work to help private landowners and government agencies in the southeastern United States protect special forest sites though working-forest conservation easements.
The three non-profit conservation organizations were awarded a total of $65,000 over two years to work with hardwood forest owners, government agencies and SFI program participants to encourage owners to consider easements, and to offer advice and technical assistance.
“The SFI program is helping us equip landowners and public agencies with the information and expertise they need to protect more forests through conservation easements,” said Camilla Herlevich, Executive Director of the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust.
“We welcome the opportunity to be part of this creative collaboration,” said Doug Rodman, Middle Tennessee Project Manager of the Land Trust of Tennessee. “Working-forest conservation easements yield so many benefits – they protect biodiversity, reduce habitat fragmentation, improve air and water quality and increase carbon storage.”
Project activities will include community education and outreach workshops, training and technical assistance, and production of materials showing the value of easements. Other project partners are the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; and The Nature Conservancy – North Carolina Chapter, along with SFI program participants, Louisiana-Pacific Corporation and Resource Management Service LLC.
A working forest conservation easement is a voluntary contract between a landowner and a land trust, government agency or other qualified organization in which the owner places permanent restrictions on future uses of the property to protect forest resources, while still managing it responsibly. It can result in potential tax benefits for the landowner, who still owns the property.
“Easements are one of the voluntary market-based tools we promote in the SFI standard to broaden the practice of sustainable forestry,” SFI President and CEO Kathy Abusow said. “This partnership also builds on standard requirements that help to conserve biodiversity and wildlife habitat, protect special spaces and encourage community involvement in sustainable forest management.”
“Conservation easements are a great business solution for forest landowners,” said Ron Sutherland, Science Director of Wildlands Network. “By promoting connectivity, they can help to sustain wildlife for the long term.”
Last year, SFI Inc. created the Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant program to build upon the more than $1.2 billion SFI program participants have contributed for research activities, including forestry research, science and technology since 1995.
The SFI 2010-2014 Standard is based on 14 core principles that promote sustainable forest management, including measures to protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk, and Forests with
Exceptional Conservation Value, and encourages community involvement. The SFI program is the only forest certification standard in North America that requires participants to support and engage in research activities to improve forestry forest health, productivity and sustainable management of forest resources.