Sarah Crow, American Forest Foundation, scrow@forestfoundation.org (Presenter)
C.A. "Buck" Vandersteen, Louisiana Forestry Association, bvan@laforestry.com
Stephen Pecot, Larson & McGowin, Inc., specot@larsonmcgowin.com


The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) is the oldest sustainable woodland system in America. Established in 1941 as a landowner recognition program, ATFS has evolved to become an internationally recognized, third-party audited certification system. Of the 27 million acres of private forest lands certified to the ATFS Standard, over 5 million of these are certified through ATFS Independently Managed Groups (IMG). A growing program, ATFS IMGs are a form of “group certification” where any number of landowners is certified under a single umbrella certificate, thereby distributing the costs of certification among the group members. ATFS IMGs offer unique opportunities for diverse forestry organizations to grow and provide competitive, third-party certification to a wide array of ownerships, while promoting sustainable forest management across the landscape. Both the Louisiana Forestry Association (LFA), a not-for-profit trade association promoting healthy, productive forests through the practice of sustainable forestry, and Larson & McGowin, a forest management and consulting firm, have established ATFS IMGs to provide certification to their respective members and clients. During this session we will explore the ATFS IMG model and the options it presents to a range of organizations and ownerships to support sustainable forest management on the ground. Drawing on the first hand experiences shared by LFA and Larson & McGowin, we will discus the IMG as a mechanism for enhancing values to their association memberships and consulting client bases by creating access to forest management tools and markets for certified wood products. NOTE: This is a panel session, requesting 60 minutes. Panelists include: Sarah Crow, American Forest Foundation (Session Coordinator) Buck Vandersteen, Louisiana Forestry Association Stephen Pecot, Larson & McGowin