Stephen Pecot, Larson & McGowin, Inc., specot@larsonmcgowin.com (Presenter)
Ernest Lovett, Larson & McGowin, Inc., elovett@larsonmcgowin.com
Sarah Crow, American Forest Foundation, scrow@forestfoundation.org
Barrett McCall, Larson & McGowin, Inc., bmccall@larsonmcgowin.com


Interest in certification of sustainable forestry practices is gaining among many groups. Ultimately this awareness is governed by a burgeoning domestic and global marketplace and environmentally conscious consumers seeking products from sources managed at a formal standard of stewardship and environmental responsibility. In 2002, the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) expanded its certification program to allow for multiple ownerships to be included under one certificate, subject to third-party auditing and managed by a single entity. Larson & McGowin, Inc., a private consulting firm, established an Independent Managed Group (IMG) in 2009 in an attempt to leverage our clients’ positions in the emerging markets. This would put our clients ahead of the demand for certified wood and be able to take advantage of biomass and pellet-type products going to European markets. The IMG now has 16 members and spans over 270,000 acres in 5 states. The cost of IMG membership is allocated proportionally across group members based on an individual member’s acreage. As the group certificate is impacted by the action of any one member, fidelity to IMG rules are carefully monitored. New members are invited only if they will make the IMG stronger as a whole. As group manager, Larson & McGowin handles all administrative tasks and inspections, holds membership meetings, interacts with the auditor and mills, and provides educational opportunities to members. By doing so, members can enjoy the benefits of ATFS certification without the additional workload.