American Tree Farm System 1
- History 1.1
- Current 1.2
Tree farming and climate change 2
- CO2 and forest health 2.1
- See also 3
- References 4
- External links 5
American Tree Farm System
The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) is the largest and oldest woodland certification system in America. It is internationally recognized by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification and meets strict third-party certification standards. It is one of three certification systems currently recognized in the United States (the others include the
- American Tree Farm System History, Forest History Society
- American Tree Farm System, American Forest Foundation
- Perth Tree Farm System, Australia Forest Foundation
- "American Tree Farm System Turns 70," The Forest History Society, 2011.
- Sharp, Paul F. 1949. "The Tree Farm Movement: Its Origin and Development," Agricultural History, 23: 41-45 (January).
- "American Tree Farm System History," Forest History Society
- "New Collection: American Tree Farm System Records," The Forest History Society Blog, 2010.
- Standards of Certification for ATFS, American Forest Foundation
- American Forest Foundation website
- American Tree Farm System website
- American Tree Farm System website
- Bowyer, Jim. 2011. "Managing Forests for Mitigating Climate Change," Dovetail Partners.
- USDA carbon sequestration calculator Archived 8 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine
- Biosolids Workshop, Virginia Tech Archived 26 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
In addition to better fertilization, biosolids present an innovative solution. Biosolids are treated sewage from municipal or agricultural sources such as chicken and hog operations in Virginia and North Carolina. Though biosolids have the potential to improve soils and lead to improved tree growth, barriers to adoption include regulation and inertia.
Carbon dioxide is a primary building material for plant tissue and is required to make plants grow fast and strong, so presumably higher levels of CO2 in the air as a result of burning fossil fuels would make forests grow faster. Duke University did a study where they dosed a loblolly pine plantation with elevated levels of CO2. The studies showed that the pines did indeed grow faster and stronger. They were also less prone to damage during ice storms, which is a factor that limits loblolly growth farther north. The forest did relatively better during dry years. The hypothesis is that the limiting factors in the growth of the pines are nutrients such as nitrogen, which is in deficit on much of the pine land in the Southeast. In dry years, however, the trees don’t bump up against those factors since they are growing more slowly because water is the limiting factor. When rain is plentiful trees reach the limits of the site's nutrients and the extra CO2 isn’t beneficial. Most forest soils in Southeastern region are deficient in nitrogen and phosphorus as well as trace minerals. Pine forests often sit on land that was used for cotton, corn or tobacco. Since these crops depleted originally shallow and infertile soils, tree farmers must work to improve soils.
CO2 and forest health
The USDA has an online calculator for how much carbon is sequestered in various types of forests.
While tree farms absorb large amounts of CO2, the long-term sequestration of this carbon depends on what is done with the harvested materials. Forests continue to absorb atmospheric carbon for centuries if left undisturbed.
Because tree farms are managed to enhance rapid growth, a tree farm tends to sequester carbon more quickly than an unmanaged forest, considering only the sequestration side of the equation and not the carbon release due to rot, fire, or harvest. The fact that managed woodlands tend to be younger and younger trees grow faster and die less contributes to this distinction.
A forest sequesters carbon in its trees. The forest removes carbon dioxide from the air as trees grow and returns it to the air as trees die and rot or burn. As long as the forest is experiencing net growth, the forest is reducing the amount of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas, from the air. Furthermore, if timber is regularly removed from the forest and turned into lasting wood products, those products continue sequestering carbon, while the replacement tree farm trees absorb more carbon dioxide, thus effecting a continuous reduction in greenhouse gas.
Tree farming and climate change
Each year ATFS hosts a National Tree Farmer Convention and awards an individual or family with the National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award. It also awards a National Outstanding Inspector Award to a resource professional who has demonstrated exceptional outreach efforts to engage landowners and the general public in sustainable forestry.
The network of over 90,000 woodland owners is organized through state committees and governed at the national level. Currently 45 of the 50 states have committees. Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, North Dakota and Utah currently do not have programs. With national coordination, ATFS strives to "work on-the-ground with families...to promote stewardship and protect our nation's forest heritage." The state networks also include tree farm inspectors, who certify the forests and conduct outreach efforts on behalf of ATFS and partnered organizations.
As a program of the American Forest Foundation (AFF), the American Tree Farm System focuses on the long-term sustainability of America's forests in ecological and economic terms. The vision statement of AFF states, "AFF is committed to creating a future where North American forests are sustained by the public that understand and values the social, economic, and environmental benefits they provide to our communities, our nation, and the world."
To be eligible for the Forest Ag Program, properties must meet several criteria:
Landowners must annually submit (1) a request for inspection, (2) an inspection fee, (3) an accomplishment report, and (4) an annual work plan for the following year, and have the enrolled property inspected by a CSFS forester.
- The landowner must perform forest management activities to produce tangible wood products for the primary purpose of obtaining a monetary profit. Tangible wood products include transplants, Christmas trees and boughs, sawlogs, posts, poles and firewood.
- The landowner must have at least 40 forested acres.
- The landowner must submit a Colorado State Forest Service-approved forest management plan that is prepared by a professional forester or natural resources professional.
Since 1941, the system has shifted to focus on whole stewardship, rather than strictly fiber production. According to the Standards of Certification for ATFS, woodland owners must own 10 or more acres and have a management plan. In that management plan, woodland owners must recognize wildlife habitat, protection of water quality, threatened and endangered species, and sustainable harvest levels. The certification standard is subject to multi-stakeholder involvement in the development and revision of the standard, third-party audits, and a publicly available certification of audit summaries. It should be noted that the minimum acreage to qualify for a tree farm refers to "woodland" i.e., forested land. So acreage which includes grazing or other non-wooded lands must have at least 10 acres in forest to qualify. Furthermore, programs in different areas which support tree farming activities may require larger forested acreages as well as additional criteria. For example, The Forest Ag Program in Colorado requires the following standards:
Throughout its history, ATFS has relied on celebrity Tree Farmers to relay its message to the public. Celebrities include actor Andy Griffith, actress Andie MacDowell, former President Jimmy Carter, and Rolling Stone keyboardist Chuck Leavell.
 With declining virgin saw timber available, the industry began to promote forestry practices to ensure sufficient fiber production for the future. Prior to 1941, the majority of fiber came from industrial lands. The first tract of land labeled as a Tree Farm was organized and marketed by the