21 state forests earn top status
COLUMBUS — Ohio’s 21 state forests are managed well enough to join an elite group of public forest lands that are certified as sustainable, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said Thursday.
The environmental and social standards under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative program have been achieved by only eight other states, ODNR said.
“We worked hard. This is a milestone achievement for the Ohio Division of Forestry,” said David Lytle, state forester. In Ohio, there are 200,000 acres of state forest land amid 8 million acres of forests in the state, the vast majority privately held. To achieve certification, Ohio showed third-party auditors that standards assured protection of a multitude of wildlife, water quality, public involvement and timber harvesting in a way that won’t exhaust the resource. The Division of Forestry will also undergo annual compliance audits.
Ohio’s $15 billion forest products industry relies on timber from state lands and officials must certify that no more timber is taken each year than is grown. Only a fifth of what grows each year in state forests is harvested, Lytle said.
“Consumers purchasing products made from wood grown in Ohio’s state forests can be assured that they are making a ‘green’ choice,” said Lytle. “Since almost all of the timber harvested from state forests is purchased by Ohio companies, certification will help Ohio’s forest product industry expand their businesses into new markets.”