The Southern Group of State Foresters is holding its 2015 conference in the Alamo City. Alongside colleagues from numerous state and federal agencies, forest-based industries and non-profits, attendees have an opportunity to learn, share and consider the unique challenges and opportunities ahead for southern forests.
Texas State Forester and Director of Texas A&M Forest Service Tom Boggus said these meetings give state foresters a chance to come together and very powerfully speak with one voice. Interaction and collaboration with other agencies and organizations engaged in sustainable forest management is a big part of the four-day meeting.
“It’s all about people and relationships. The problems and issues are too big for us to tackle by ourselves and that is why it’s important that we come together as a group. We come out of this with stronger relationships and new opportunities,” Boggus said.
Known as the “wood basket” of the world, the South is responsible for more than 55 percent of U.S. timber harvests by volume, generating more wood products than any other country outside of the U.S. Globally, southern forests make up only 2 percent of the world’s forest cover, but produce 25 percent of the world’s pulpwood for paper and 18 percent of its industrial timber.
Forest Inventory and Analysis and water quality and quantity are the hot topics this year. FIA is the nation’s only forest inventory system for assessing the health and sustainability of our forests. Data collected is used by everyone from economists to environmentalists—but FIA isn’t given the credit it deserves.
“Everywhere you look, people are using FIA numbers to make or strengthen their point—but they rarely give credit to where they got their numbers. Because of that congress fails to understand the fundamental importance of this program to almost everything we do. State foresters need to promote FIA and shine the light on where this data comes from,” Boggus said.