Forests at the Crossroads: An Assessment of Alabama’s Forest Resource

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How “Forests at the Crossroads” Came About

The 2008 Farm Bill encouraged State Foresters to complete statewide assessments of their state’s forest resource. The Alabama Forestry Commission saw this as an opportunity to fulfill its own legislative mandate “to make exploration, surveys, studies and reports concerning the timber and forest resources (of Alabama) and to publish such thereof as will be of general interest .”

Over an 18-month period, the Alabama Forestry Commission collaborated with 33 organizations, 37 subject matter experts, and with public comment from 865 citizens to produce Alabama’s Forest Assessment and Resource Strategy, titled “Forest at the Crossroads.” The document was approved on June 18, 2010 by the US Forest Service on behalf of the Secretary of Agriculture.

Forests at the Crossroads
Click here to read the document.

Nine Threats to Alabama’s Forest Resource

The foundation of the document rests on a comprehensive assessment of the conditions and trends within Alabama’s forest resource. From these, nine threats were identified. Left unaddressed, these threats will diminish benefits Alabama citizens receive from the state’s forest.

1. Urban Growth and Development
2. Fragmentation and Parcelization
3. Invasive Species
4. Changing Markets
5. Insects and Diseases
6. Wildfire
7. Catastrophic Natural Events
8. Air Quality
9. Climate Change

Strategies to Sustain Alabama’s Forest Resource

The final part of the document provides a strategy to address or minimize the nine threats. A total of 26 goals, 65 objectives, and 216 strategies were identified to address nine threats facing Alabama’s forest resource.

In addition, four (4) multi-state regional priorities affecting Alabama’s forest were recognized as opportunities to collaborate surrounding states. These multi-state regional priorities include battling the problem of cogongrass, working to restore longleaf pine, improving water quality, and managing the impact of urban mega-regions that are spreading across the region.

What has Been Done?

On December 11, 2011, State Forester Linda Casey signed a memorandum of agreement with the National Forest of Alabama, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Auburn University - School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences, and Alabama Cooperative Extension System to work together in implementing strategies in the document. An eight-member multi-agency Forest Resource Task Force was appointed to develop an annual work plan to guide these collaborative efforts.

What Next?

The multi-agency Forest Resource Task Force is currently assessing activities already being carried out by each agency that are found in Forests at the Crossroads. The Task Force will then recommend 1) how agencies can improve working together on existing activities and 2) what gaps or opportunities there are for additional collaborations.

Code of Alabama, Title 9: Conservation and Natural Resources - Chapter 3 – Forestry Commission, Section 9-3-4 (2)