Hardwood forests of exceptional and high conservation value are identified and steps are taken to ensure their protection.
Hardwood forests are protected from adverse impacts.
U.S. hardwoods are not undergoing significant conversion to intensively managed plantations or other non-forest land uses.
Information is available about known protected species and habitats, parks, reserves, refuges, and wilderness areas.
U.S. producers can consult publicly available databases to identify and locate exceptional and high conservation values provided by the High Conservation Value Network: http://www.hcvnetwork.org/; http://www.worldwildlife.org/science/ecoregions.cfm; https://gapanalysis.usgs.gov/padus/
Loggers are trained in resource management and protection.
Net growth of the hardwood forest has increased over the last decade by over 8 percent, with almost all hardwood producing states showing stable or increasing inventory volumes.
There is a surplus growth of 139 million m3 in US hardwoods (in the hardwood region) and a growth to removals ratio of 1.9.
The U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory & Analysis Program reports that forest growth exceeds harvest in all hardwood regions and that the amount of forest land is stable: http://www.fia.fs.fed.us/
Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment: Section 4: Based on the most current data available from four independent federal agencies tasked with monitoring of the nation’s natural resources, we can conclude that bottomland hardwood forests have been stable or increasing in areal extent in the past decade.
Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment: Section 7.3: The particular relevance for U.S. hardwoods is that several hundred species that are found in either upland or bottomland hardwood forests are listed under the ESA (Endangered Species Act). Among those that have received much attention are: Eastern Cougar, Canada Lynx, Red Wolf, Indiana Bat, and Louisiana Black Bear. Penalties for “taking” a listed species are severe. However, given the closely monitored populations and ESA enforcement, the risk that hardwood management and production activities are adversely affecting ESA-listed species is low.
Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment: Section 8: The available data suggest that states in the hardwood region are diligent about enforcing regulations where they apply, proactive in encouraging and monitoring BMPs, and attentive to identifying and acting on priority forestry issues. The wide acceptance and implementation of BMPs contribute to the Study Team's finding that there is a very low to negligible risk that forestry activities adversely affect water quality and associated beneficial uses.
Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment: Section 9: Conservation efforts by private organizations, often in partnership with government agencies and/or forest landowners, have increased in scale and importance. While typically targeting forests generally, a high percentage of easements and other conservation efforts involve significant hardwood resources. Conservation easements are preventing conversion of forests to other land uses, and in most cases, include requirements to have and follow management plans and best management practices. In most cases, the ecosystem protections and improvements they enable go above and beyond any legal requirements imposed by local, state, or federal entities. In addition, many of them are providing conservation and protection of forest resources that are not enrolled in voluntary third-party certification programs.
Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment: Section 11.6: Rare ecosystems and habitats are identified as HCV areas in the draft FSC-US-NRA through an assessment of conservation priority forest types. The priority forest types pertinent to hardwood management noted in the draft NRA are mesophytic cove sites in the Appalachian region and late successional bottomland hardwood sites in the Southeast and Mississippi Alluvial Valley regions. Both of these are noted for high levels of diversity and rare forest conditions. The draft FSC-US-NRA concluded low risk for the remainder of the forest areas associated with hardwood production.
Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment: Section 14.5: State and federal land agencies are required by law to not only protect threatened and endangered species, but to implement recovery programs to ensure that such species fully recover and can be removed from Federal and State threatened and endangered species lists.
Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment: Section 15.5: The predominant ecosystem types in the North Central Allegheny case study area are Appalachian Hemlock-Hardwood Forest and Central Appalachian Oak and Pine Forest. This high proportion of protected forests suggests that this important habitat type is sufficiently represented and protected as part of the ecological gap analysis. See Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment: Section 17.5 & 18.5 for case study.
Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment Finding 6: We conclude that there is a Low Risk of sourcing and exporting illegal or unsustainable hardwoods pursuant to the current requirements for avoiding uncontrolled or controversial sources outlined in certification and procurement programs operating in the United States. [Section 10]
Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment Finding 20: A safety-net of federal and state laws and regulations, resource assessments and forest and wildlife action plans, Best Management Practices (BMPs), professional logger training, forest health monitoring and protection, conservation programs, technical assistance, outreach and cost-share incentive programs, are effective in assisting family forest owners in achieving legal and regulatory compliance, broadening the professionalism of forest workers and promoting sustainable forestry practices. Overall, federal and state forest programs contribute to ensuring sustainable and legal hardwood supplies. [Sections 8, 9]
Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment Finding 23: There are extant protections, conservation programs, BMP monitoring, and public and private sustainable forestry programs in each hardwood state that address HCV and forest conversion issues. Depending upon the decision criteria used in the final FSC-US-NRA, these various landscape scale initiatives may contribute to viable control measures under the FSC Controlled Wood standard. [Section 11]
Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment Finding 25: Four case studies of Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Survey Units that are among the highest hardwood sawtimber producing areas in the United States highlight and substantiate that the forest land base is stable, forest inventories are increasing, BMP programs are highly effective, a large number of loggers have received sustainable forestry training and State Forest and Wildlife Action Plans are in place to address state-specific sustainability challenges. Among the common challenges identified in state forest assessments are the threat of conversion of forests to development and combating forest health risks, including invasive insects and disease. [Sections 14, 15, 16, 17, 18]
Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment Finding 33: Purchases of ecologically significant forests and protection through conservation easements increasingly protect important species and habitats. Other cooperative efforts with landowners to conserve critical forest resources, particularly bottomland hardwood forests along streams and in wetlands, have also increased. [Section 9]