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Forester Brian Agnew has decades of experience working with forest landowners in Alabama to ensure they can manage their land and harvest timber while conserving wildlife habitat and protecting water resources. Photo submitted
Alabama has more than 23 million acres of timberland, which produces enough oxygen for 214 million people to breath every year. Keep in mind: Alabama has just over 5 million citizens. On average, for every tree harvested in Alabama, another 1.56 trees are planted. Photo submitted
Alabama’s forest landowners use a mix of voluntary and mandatory conservation programs to wisely steward the state’s natural resources. These programs preserve green spaces (grasslands, forests and wetlands), which absorb greenhouse gases and filter Alabama’s abundant water resources. Photo submitted
Special to the News
Written by Marlee Moore, Alabama Farmers Federation
Alabama landowners’ roots run deep when it comes to conservation.
“My job is to do what’s best for the land ecologically and environmentally,” said timber consultant Brian Agnew, who serves on the Alabama Farmers Federation State Forestry Committee.
Agnew and fellow forest-focused Alabamians use a mix of voluntary and mandatory conservation programs to wisely steward the state’s natural resources. These programs preserve green spaces (grasslands, forests and wetlands), which absorb greenhouse gases and filter Alabama’s abundant water resources.
Alabama has more than 23 million acres of timberland — and plants 1.56 trees for every tree harvested. The state’s timberland also produces enough oxygen for 214 million people to breath every year.
Keep in mind: Alabama has just over 5 million citizens.
Multiple-use stewardship is at the forefront of many forest landowners’ minds. That concept forms the basis of the TREASURE Forest Certification — Timber, Recreation, Environment, Aesthetics, Sustainable, Usable, REsource. Meanwhile, some landowners receive higher prices when they sell timber thanks to the Tree Farm seal, which promotes sustainable practices.
“Most of the landowners I help are either members of the TREASURE Forest or Tree Farm programs,” Agnew said. “Every contract I have notes the Best Management Practices (BMPs) required by the state of Alabama.”
More than 60% of Alabama’s surface water flows through privately owned forests. BMPs help protect, maintain and improve that water quality and include correctly planning and constructing forest roads, log landings, stream buffers and stream crossings.
“When you set up a timber sale, we want to maintain a distance from any body of water,” Agnew said. “We have a boundary on either side of a stream to not degrade water quality.”
Like forestry BMPs, farmers follow Nutrient Management Plans when fertilizing crops and managing animal manure. These plans specify how much fertilizer, manure or other nutrient sources may be applied to crops to achieve yields while preventing excess nutrients from impacting waterways.
Chicken farmers minimize water runoff, too, by planting vegetative buffers between chicken houses, while cattle farmers use grazing techniques to support biodiversity, provide wildlife habitat, enhance carbon sequestration and contribute to nutrient cycling.
Visit DownToEarthAL.com to learn more.
Down to Earth definitions:
- Best Management Practice: Ensures equipment used when harvesting timber doesn’t push sediment or brush into nearby waterways or erode stream banks.
- Voluntary conservation program: A non-compulsory program landowners sign up for that helps protect green spaces (grasslands, forests and wetlands). Examples include the Conservation Reserve Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
- Nutrient Management Plan: Specifies how much fertilizer, manure or other nutrient sources may be applied to crops.
- TREASURE Forest: A certification rewarding landowners for multiple-use forest stewardship. The Alabama TREASURE Forest Association is an affiliate of the Alabama Farmers Federation.
Down to Earth partners include the Alabama Agribusiness Council, Alabama Association of RC&D Councils, Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries, Alabama Farmers Federation, Alabama Forestry commission, Alabama Poultry & Egg Association and Sweet Grown Alabama.
Interact with @DowntoEarthAL on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or visit www.DowntoEarthAL.com.