Advocacy

ENHANCING THE VALUE OF GEORGIA’S FORESTRY SECTOR

GFA works to enhance investments in working forests and forest product manufacturing. For more than 100 years, we’ve served as the voice of forestry at the local, state and federal level. Since then, we’ve strictly focused our efforts on the following core principles.

OUR CORE PRINCIPLES

Private Property Rights

Protecting landowners's options for managing their land including the Best Management Practices (BMP's) for water quality and the user of prescribed fire. Responsible use of eminent domain.
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Sensible Taxes and Regulations

We are focused on responsibly growing Georgia’s working forests and forest product industries. We advocate for policies that protect and enhance the value and management of private timberlands as a critical component in the economic and environmental well-being of our communities.
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Healthy Markets

Private forest owners own 91 percent of the forests in the state. For them to remain competitive and profitable, there must be healthy markets for both small and large diameter trees. We are focused on promoting unencumbered access to markets for raw materials and finished goods and the use of Georgia’s #1 renewable resource.
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Center for Forest Competitiveness

The Georgia Forestry Foundation’s Center for Forest Competitiveness is focused on identifying solutions to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of forestry investments.
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#1 Forestry State

Georgia is recognized as a national and global leader in forestry thanks to the dedication of forest landowners, forestry professionals and forestry related businesses.
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OUR IMPACT

Influencing Real Change

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Sensible Taxes and Regulation
2018
AMENDMENT 3: FAIR FOREST TAX
As a result of GFA’s constitutional amendment campaign, Georgia Voters approved Amendment 3 on the November 2018 General Election Ballot. Amendment 3 addressed several issues with the valuation of timberland for property taxation purposes. It established a new class of land, Qualified Timberland Property, that is assessed at fair market value as determined by the Department of Revenue rather than local tax assessors. It Increased the acres eligible for conservation under the Forest Land Protection Act. And, finally, it maintained Local Assistance Grants for counties and schools under the Forest Land Protection Act.
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HEALTHY MARKETS
2017
USE OF WOOD IN CONSTRUCTION
Advocated and passed legislation to end to irresponsible local bans on using wood in multifamily construction. This legislation was drafted in response to several municipalities in metro-Atlanta that passed local ordinances banning the use of wood in buildings that are higher than three stories or larger than 100,000 square feet. The legislation was vital to ensuring healthy markets for trees from Georgia’s working forests.
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Private Property Rights
2016-2017
EMINENT DOMAIN STUDY COMMITTEE
Advocated for legislation that strengthens private property rights and still leaves the door open for a petroleum pipeline to be built in Georgia. Most importantly for forest landowners, this legislation: allows for landowners to appeal the process for eminent domain and permitting decisions; elevates the criteria needed for a company to use eminent domain; places the burden proving the need to use eminent domain on the pipeline company.
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HEALTHY MARKETS
2015
GEORGIA GROWN WOOD IN GREEN BUILDING CONSTRUCTION
The Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 255, requiring that state-funded buildings built to green building standards give equal consideration to all forest certification programs, including the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This legislation was a result of Governor Nathan Deal’s 2012 Executive Order. This legislation was very important for Georgia manufacturers, because the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building system excluded most Georgia grown wood.
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PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS
2014
TIMBER SECURITY
On April 29, 2014, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed legislation into law that strengthened Georgia’s timber theft and timber trespass statutes. House Bill 790 was the product of the House Study Committee on Timber Security, established by House Resolution 644 at the urging of GFA. A key provision of the legislation expanded the authority of the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) to investigate, issue warrants and make arrests in timber theft cases. Since July of 2014, GFC has investigated 154 complaints and recovered over $123,000.
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Sensible Taxes and Regulation
2013
BORROW PIT PROTECTION
After member landowners experienced difficulties with regulatory authorities, GFA was instrumental in crafting legislation to revise the term ‘borrow pit’ to allow a property owner to use earthen materials from excavated areas of less than five acres without having to apply for a mining permit. This legislation is critical for landowners who use material from their land for the construction of forest roads for logging and other uses.
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HEALTHY MARKETS
2011
ECOSYSTEM SERVICES STUDY
GFA teamed with the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources to determine the value of the ecosystem services provided by Georgia’s 22 million acres of privately-owned, commercially available forests. The study conservatively estimated that value at $38.6 billion.
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Sensible Taxes and Regulation
2008
THE FORESTLAND PROTECTION ACT (FLPA)
GFA’s successful constitutional amendment campaign made effective the Forest Land Protection Act of 2008 (HB 1211) – which lifted a huge tax burden from Georgia’s forest landowners. FLPA created a property valuation classification of forestland to expand CUVA created in 1990. Though technically tax legislation, FLPA’s establishment was equally important to conserving forestland by creating a system that allowed owners of large working forests to protect them from sell-off and fragmentation that result from out-of-control property taxes. Today, thousands of acres have remained in forestland due to the tax relief provided by this legislation.
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HEALTHY MARKETS
2005
FUTURE OF FORESTRY STUDY COMMITTEE
GFA was instrumental in creating the Georgia General Assembly’s Future of Forestry Study Committee, charged to prepare a comprehensive plan for Georgia to sustain and expand the benefits of forestry in the state. This effort unified government and forestry leaders, and directed the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) to certify to the General Assembly the sustainability of the state’s forest resources through a report every five years. This initiative has been critical to crafting long-term relationships at the State Capitol and providing a statistical basis for legislative proposals over the past 10 years.
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Sensible Taxes and Regulation
1991
CONSERVATION USE VALUATION ASSESSMENT (CUVA)
GFA played an active role in passing a constitutional amendment which revolutionized the way land is assessed for property tax purposes (by soil productivity rather than fair market value). For more than 20 years, CUVA has saved landowners millions of dollars in tax revenue, providing further incentive to plant, grow and harvest trees.