Study shows forests in south well managed, but urban sprawl remains a threat

News October 14, 2002
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The federal government released the final version of the comprehensive Southern Forest Resource Assessment (SFRA), a multi-agen

The federal government released the final version of the comprehensive Southern Forest Resource Assessment (SFRA), a multi-agency, multi-year study of southern forests. The study, headed by the U.S. Forest Service, concluded southern forests are healthy and being sustainably managed, but did flag continued urban growth as a potential threat to long-term sustainability.


Between 1982 and 1997, developed land in the South increased by 45%, representing 12 million acres of forest lost forever to development. The SFRA found 2020 could develop another 12 million acres.


"The report's findings on urban growth are sobering," said SFRA President Lionel Landry.


The report found that although forest landowners in the South manage their land for a variety of reasons, the ability to earn income from growing trees and participating in the forest economy is principal among many of them. If forest landowners suddenly find themselves unable to count on that income, they could clear the land, choosing to grow a different crop or sell the land to developers.


"Private land owners are regulated about all they can take right now and if we start adding new laws and regulations on top of existing ones we may see a mass exodus from the tree growing business. The end result will be more parking lots and less forests in the South," said Landry.


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