Forestry: Southern Region Resources on Sustainable Woodland Management and Land Use Conservation

Forestry is a vital component of Southern agriculture. Southern forests provide a variety of ecological benefits, including reducing soil erosion, maintaining high water quality, providing habitat for many wildlife species, and conserving biological diversity. Southern forests provide many social benefits as well, including jobs both directly and indirectly related to forest products, and commodities such as pulp and paper, solid wood products, and furniture. Amenity values include the use of forestland for hiking, fishing, hunting, bird watching, and other recreational or aesthetic pursuits.

In the Southern region, nearly 90 percent of the 200 million acres of forests are owned by private, small landowners, a pattern which differs from other regions in the country where the bulk of forest acreage is protected in national parks. Historically, these small landowners do not actively manage their forestland, and are generally unaware of the potential income their woodlands provide -- apart from harvesting timber in monoculture pine and hardwood plantations. In addition, landowners who are unaware of the real value of their forestland will clear cut and convert the land to pasture, cropland or urban development.

Woodlands, if managed correctly and sustainably, have the potential to be an invaluable source of income for landowners and an economic and environmental asset for the public at large. Management without regard to sustainability often leads to serious environmental damage as well as significant economic loss. To add to the need for forest sustainability, the public demand for wood products, wildlife, watershed protection, recreation, carbon sequestration and other forest benefits continues to increase. Education in basic forest ecology, forest health, best management practices, pine and hardwood management, taxation, and estate planning is an important step in maximizing landowner revenue while maintaining the integrity of a forestland ecosystem.

The following SSARE-funded resources provide information on sustainable forestland management to help ensure that forests are grown, managed and harvested using accepted practices that meet the needs of current and future generations.

Private Landowners Guide to Forest Certification in the South


A publication developed by the LSU Ag Center and Mississippi State University Extension to help guide forest landowners through the process of forest certification.

Download File (1.76 MB)

South Carolina Farm and Forest Land Conservation Training Workbook


A training and reference tool workbook that focuses on land use and farm and forest land protection policies.

Download File (47.61 MB)

Sustainable Forestry Management for Productive Woodlands


A series of fact sheets from Sustainable Woodlands and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service on opportunities for management of productive woodlands for limited-resource landholders.

Top Dollar for Your Timber


A fact sheet from the Arkansas Land & Farm Development Corporation on tips to making a profit in timber production.

Download File (143.53 kB)

Top Dollar for Your Timber: Sustaining Arkansas' Hardwood Forests


A guide from Winrock International on sustainable forest management.

Download File (13.50 MB)

Published by the Southern Region of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Southern SARE operates under cooperative agreements with the University of Georgia, Fort Valley State University, and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture to offer competitive grants to advance sustainable agriculture in America's Southern region. This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, under sub-award numbers: LS94-061, LS01-126, ES01-057, and LS05-171. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.



Resources from Other SARE Regions

North Central SARE

Women Caring for the Land

Women Caring for the Land

A manual designed to serve female non-operator landowners who are interested in conservation and land management.

Western SARE

Living on the Land

Living on the Land

Curricula to teach small-acreage landowners how to care for their soil, air and water while maximizing the land's value.

Are you an ag educator or farmer interested in sharing the Agroforestry Topic Room at an event? Consider using this one-page flyer (PDF).