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Driving through the South Carolina countryside, you will occasionally see a green and white diamond-shaped sign declaring a property to be part of the American Tree Farm System. What does that mean?
The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) is the country’s largest and oldest network of family-owned forests. More than 83,000 members are managing 26 million acres of America’s forests.
ATFS is a program of the American Forest Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that works “with families, teachers and elected officials to promote stewardship” and ensure the sustainability of the American family forest for future generations.
Sustainability is the “capacity of forests…to maintain their health, productivity, diversity and overall integrity over the long run in the context of human activity.”
The American Tree Farm System is dedicated to stopping the loss of the nation’s family-owned woodlands, due to pressure from development, an aging owner population, catastrophic fire, pests and pathogens, warming temperatures and disappearing markets.
To that end, ATFS supports forest landowners with research, education, management tools and resources and legislative monitoring.
One of the most popular ATFS projects is its award-winning Tree Farmer magazine.
Those displaying the American Tree Farm System sign have earned that designation through an internationally recognized landowner certification program. This certification validates an owner’s implementation of sound forestry practices. Certification is based upon eight standards that address issues as varied as reforestation, invasive species control, pesticide application, disturbance of wetlands, use of natural resource professionals, etc. All applications for certification are subject to strict third-party verification and auditing.
For details of eligibility and standards, visit the American Tree Farm System’s website at www.treefarmsystem.org or contact S.C. Tree Farm State Administrator Sally Tucker at (803) 798-4170, ext. 12.
Joanna Angle, a master tree farmer, was a former director of the Olde English District Tourism Commission, which included Lancaster County. She also produced and hosted “Palmetto Places” for SCETV.