Promoting Sustainably-Managed Woodlands One Parcel at a Time

Sep 29, 2017 10:15 AM ET

By Dan Persica and Andrew Goldberg

It’s a little-known fact that more than 75 percent of forestland in the southeastern region of the United States is owned by private woodland owners.

Most people assume that this swath of the Appalachian Mountains is either federally held or the property of corporations in the business of making and selling wood-fiber based products such as writing paper, diapers, and paper towels.

Truth is, much of the mountain region is family owned, often in small parcels of 100 acres or less, a place that generations of people call home. Many make at least a part of their living off the land, selling timber to help pay for family needs. In fact, the southeast US is the leading forest products producing region in the world, and this includes wood coming from privately owned woodlands. Those trees are made into pulp, paper, timber, furniture, and many other products we use every day.

The mutually beneficial relationship between the forest products industry and woodland owners has been in place for decades. But the tide is turning to favor woodland owners who manage their land with an eye towards best practices. More and more, forest companies are looking to procure from landowners who proactively manage their forests in a responsible way.

Shifting to woodland management from woodland ownership can be a challenge for landowners with jobs, families, and a host of other responsibilities. But there are resources to help landowners get there. The newly-formed Appalachian Woodlands Alliance (AWA)—a collaboration between Domtar, the nonprofit Rainforest Alliance, and other leading forest products companies that seek to increase their stocks of responsible wood, bundles these services and materials into a streamlined, easy path to woodland management. Through this partnership, the AWA hopes to grow recognition for wood products from this region, bring a new revenue source to landowners, and provide resources and tools for woodland owners to be even better stewards of their forests.

To learn more about the AWA, check out the video above, or visit

Dan Persica is the senior manager of sustainability communications for Domtar’s Pulp & Paper Division and lives in Charlotte, NC. Andrew Goldberg is the Project Manager of the Appalachian Woodlands Alliance and lives in Asheville, NC.