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Promoting sustainable forest management for small landowners

Locally-sourced wood is the lifeblood of our pulp and paper mills. We have an economic interest in keeping the forests near our mills as forests and promoting sustainable forestry practices – everywhere we operate.

Our mills purchased 15.2 million green metric tons of wood chips in 2018, the majority from small landowners and local suppliers, especially for our mills in the southern U.S. For example, at our mill in Kingsport, Tennessee, which has been in continuous operation for over a century, about 50 percent of the fiber comes from family forest ownerships of fewer than 100 acres.

While it is widely recognized that our wood suppliers are responsible forest stewards, some customers seek documentation of sustainable practices. In some cases, this may include certification from recognized organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®).

Our challenge is getting small landowners to see the value in certifying their forest lands when they feel they are already managing their land well. As certification requires technical and financial resources, landowners need to be convinced these additional resources are worth the investment. For example, of the small private landowners supplying our mill in Kingsport, Tennessee, less than 1 percent are FSC-certified.

That is why Domtar has supported more forest landowners in certifying their operations. Domtar is a founder and supporter of the Appalachian Woodlands Alliance (AWA), a multi-party effort led by the Rainforest Alliance in a 67,000-square-mile area of Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. We are also the driving force behind the Four States Timberland Owners Association (FSTOA), in Ashdown, Arkansas, which provides small landowners with simple, useful tools for achieving FSC certification.

Our mills purchased 15.2 million green metric tons of wood chips in 2018, the majority from small landowners and local suppliers.

Appalachian Woodlands Alliance

The AWA is piloting a Smallholder Access Program designed to develop new and more efficient tools that provide the benefits of FSC certification to small landowners through existing procurement efforts.

This first-of-its-kind pilot program in the global FSC system will engage hundreds of small landowners in responsible harvesting and management of their woodlands, including addressing their stewardship and sustainability goals. The program focuses on regionally important conservation values and water quality, as well as improving poorly managed stands through scientific forest management practices.

“Domtar’s commitment to growing responsible forest management with the small private woodland owners of the Southern and Central Appalachian region is impressive,’’ said Andrew Goldberg, a project manager for Southeast Family Forest Projects of the Rainforest Alliance. ‘‘Together we reach hundreds of landowners every year and look forward to advancing new tools to help bring FSC certification to this critical part of Domtar’s supply chain.”

The AWA will also introduce woodland owners to new opportunities for planning and harvesting, using information from satellite imagery and other technological tools, educational materials and events.

Four States Timberland Owners Association

Created in 2012 under the leadership of our Ashdown, Arkansas, mill, FSTOA has grown steadily to reach over 220 members with a total of 628,000 acres of woodland under FSC certification. Working with industry partners, Domtar has helped fund the certification process and make it more manageable for small landowners.

The group hosts events for existing and prospective members, including an annual meeting and mill tours. Domtar forestry leaders also speak to groups such as the Arkansas Farm Bureau, Arkansas Forestry Association and Women Owning Woodlands, where they explain the benefits of FSTOA membership and FSC certification.

“Admittedly, at first there was fear of the unknowns about the FSC standard and fear of losing control and having someone from the outside telling us how to manage our forest land,” said Lance Childress, who manages the lands Ward Timber has in the FSTOA. “Membership in FSTOA has afforded me and my clients the opportunity to further understand and appreciate the FSC initiative.”

628,000 acres of woodland under FSC certification