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Sustainable Forestry a ‘Win-Win’ for the Environment and Family Forest Owners

For Sarah Holmes, owner of Holmes Forestry, sustainable forestry is easy to define, “sustainable forestry is just good forestry.”

Her love for forestry began in college after taking an introductory forestry field class at the University of Maine at Orono. Since then, her career has taken her around the world from New Hampshire to West Africa, to her current position in Mississippi.

Beyond owning Holmes Forestry, Holmes is a Mississippi registered forester, a member of the Association of Consulting Foresters, and is a forestry technical service provider for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Holmes’ mission is to help give family forest owners and foresters the tools they need to manage their lands sustainably.

“I really like to meet new landowners and help them manage their forestland,” she said. “Many of these landowners, you get the chance to work with for many years and establish a strong bond and friendship.”

Part of helping foresters and landowners manage their land is education, which is critical to Holmes’ work. She noted that organizations, such as the Mississippi State Extension Service, have educational courses and webinars throughout the year on managing forestland in a wise, sustainable manner. These courses help give landowners the up-to-date tools and information they need to sustainably manage their land. They also help new and more seasoned foresters manage land wisely and stay updated on new information.

Holmes also believes many of the family forest landowners want to be responsible stewards of their land.

"Of the family forests I have worked with, just about all the landowners want to manage their lands so their forest will be healthy for the trees and wildlife as well,” she said.

When implemented properly, sustainable forest management can not only lead to a source of income for these family forest owners but can also provide critical habitat to threatened species in Mississippi such as the Gopher Tortoise.

“A responsible, sustainable forester works for the best management for the forestland in the present and the future,” she said. “Sustainable forestry is wise and healthy management of forestland. It is something that many foresters have been doing for many years.”

If there was one thing Holmes wished everyone knew about sustainable forest management, it would be that it’s very healthy for the forest.

“A sustainable forester looks at the needs of the forest as a whole and works to manage the timber in a wise way for now and for the future,” she said. “Harvesting trees does not just benefit the mills or the landowners’ income. It also, many times, greatly benefits various wildlife species habitats including some critical habitats. It’s a ‘win-win’ situation.”

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance U.S. paper and wood products manufacturers through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. The forest products industry is circular by nature. AF&PA member companies make essential products from renewable and recycle resources, generate renewable bioenergy and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative—Better Practices, Better Planet 2030: Sustainable Products for a Sustainable Future. The forest products industry accounts for approximately four percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures nearly $300 billion in products annually and employs approximately 950,000 people. The industry meets a payroll of approximately $60 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 45 states. Visit AF&PA online at afandpa.org or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper.