An new online resource for owners and managers of forestland of fewer than ten acres is available from the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC). Of 445,000 landowners who steward Georgia's 24 million acres of forestland, 75% own parcels that measure under ten acres, according to GFC statistics. The Small Landowner Program is designed to help this group maximize the critical benefits of their woodlands, from wood products and water quality improvement, to storm water mitigation, recreation and wildlife habitat.
"This is an opportunity for landowners to gain unbiased information about how to manage their land according to the values and outcomes they believe most important," said Joe Burgess, Sustainable Community Forest Specialist with the GFC. "It's an important ownership group that the GFC is here to serve. This tool makes it convenient for landowners interested in learning specific ways to enhance their property for goals they set themselves."
While a variety of forest conservation and recognition programs exist, small landowners are often unaware of ways to maximize the benefits of their woodlands. Likewise, community green space managers are seeking tools to help them develop activities that can make their woodlands sustainable. The online program is a step-by-step guide that provides educational materials, web links, technical guidelines and activities that help users identify their goals and create an individual plan to meet them.
"We're excited about offering this tool to landowners and managers who want a hands-on part in determining their property's value," said Burgess. "Plans can be created for individuals and also for community green space. There's information about recognition for the Backyard Habitat and Georgia Conservation Woodlands programs, along with directions for identifying and managing for specific, sustainable outcomes," Burgess said.
To use the program, visit GaTrees.org and select "Small Landowner Program" from the Community Forestry or Forest Management drop-downs. Users will be asked to log into the system before beginning the online program.
To learn about the many services of the Georgia Forestry Commission, its vision, and its mission for Georgia, visit GaTrees.org.