Nation’s state foresters agree to three new policy positions

The National Association of State Foresters has adopted three positions in support of federal land management reform, forest certification, and the use of GMOs in combatting invasive species.

WASHINGTON—The nation’s 59 state and territorial foresters have agreed to back three national policy statements regarding federal land management reform, forest certification, and the use of GMOs in combatting invasive species.

With the policy statement “Supporting the Use of Genetically Modified Organisms for the Protection and Restoration of U.S. Native Forest Species Critically Threatened by Invasive Pests and Pathogens,” state foresters agreed to support the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for the protection and restoration of U.S. native forest species critically threatened by invasive species with some conditions.

“NASF continues to support traditional tree breeding methods and integrated pest management in the fight against invasive species and pathogens,” said Rob Davies, NASF Forest Science and Health Committee chair and New York state forester. “However, when these efforts cannot offer timely remediation, additional tools are needed. Recent scientific advancements in biotechnology now allow for the use of GMO tree species. It’s up to us to put these developments to work in the fight against invasives.”

The association also agreed to a policy statement on federal land management reform. In “Recommendations to Improve the Health and Sustainability of Federal Forest Resources,” NASF enumerates the ways federal land management policy could be improved to better deliver the robust array of environmental, social, and economic benefits derived from forests managed by the USDA Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

“Federal forests provide critically important goods and services, such as forest products and jobs, clean air and water, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, and carbon sequestration,” said Forrest Boe, NASF Forest Resource Management Committee chair and Minnesota state forester. “Only by accelerating the scope, scale, and pace of federal forest management, will we be able to restore these lands to a more sustainable, resilient condition. This work starts with improvements to federal land management policy.”

With the adoption of a third policy statement, “Forest Certification as it Contributes to Sustainable Forestry,” state foresters have agreed forest certification programs are a tool for promoting sustainable forestry practices.

“There is no ‘best’ forest certification program. The credibility of certification programs is tied to processes for transparency, independent governance, and open participation; not brand names,” said Scott Bissette, NASF Forest Markets Committee chair and North Carolina Forest Service assistant commissioner. “Forest ecosystems are complex and a simplistic ‘one size fits all’ approach to certification cannot address all sustainability needs.”

Media Contact: Whitney Forman-Cook at wforman-cook@stateforesters.org


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