Forestry Topics at Georgia Environmental Conference Focus on Drinking Water and Sustainable Building Materials

At this year’s Georgia Environmental Conference, the Georgia Forestry Association hosted two sessions to convey the importance of working forests to drinking water and discuss the utilization of wood as a sustainable building material.

The three-day conference, held Aug. 26-28 on Jekyll Island, brought together an elite group of environmental professionals seeking to exchange knowledge and share ideas around environmental concerns in Georgia and the Southeast region.

This year, the conference schedule included two topics that will discussed the value and importance of Georgia’s healthy, working forests. (click the tabs below for speakers and topic descriptions)

The Importance of Working Forests to Georgia’s Drinking Water

Topic Description

Water is indisputably one of Georgia’s most important long-term issues. Much discussion of water in Georgia revolves – understandably – around our cities’ water infrastructure. But what about the role of the two-thirds of our state’s land area covered by forests?

Ninety-one percent of Georgia’s forests are privately owned. The watershed services provided by these private, working forests are critical to the state’s clean drinking water. In fact, many of the state’s 44,056 miles of perennial streams, 23,906 miles of intermittent streams and 603 miles of ditches and canals begin or flow through forestland providing a vital filtration system for the 134 water supply reservoirs that provide many Georgians with a clean source of water.

A new coalition of urban and rural water professionals, foresters and others are focusing on how to work together to ensure Georgia’s water supply for generations to come. This session will discuss that collaboration.


  • Gary White, Chief of Forest Management, Georgia Forestry Commission
  • Kitty Weisman, Consultant, U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities
  • Michael Roberts, Water Resources Division Program Manager, Georgia Environmental Finance Authority

Georgia’s Renewable Building Material – Trees

In an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment, building designers and architects have been called upon to reduce their overall environmental impact while balancing functionality and cost-effectiveness. The choice of products used to build, renovate and operate structures has a significant impact on the environment. Wood products use less energy, are responsible for lower air and water pollution and have a lighter carbon footprint than other commonly used building materials.

The opportunity in Georgia in particular is significant: Our state’s population – at the heart of the nation’s wood basket – is growing. Our built environment – houses, schools, offices, universities, businesses – is growing with it. This session will explore the opportunity we have to use wood in building while reaping environmental, economic and aesthetic benefits.


  • Paul Coats, SE Regional Manager, Codes and Standards, American Wood Council
  • Bill de St. Aubin, CEO, Sizemore Group

“It is imperative that Georgia’s forestry community take every opportunity we have to communicate, not only the economic value, but the environmental and environmental importance of Georgia’s working forests,” Georgia Forestry Association President Steve McWilliams said. “This was our second year at the Georgia Environmental Conference. It continues to be a great opportunity to reach folks who are not necessarily involved directly in forestry.”

The GEC is the state’s largest, most comprehensive and diverse educational opportunity. The 600 attendees on average include state, local, and federal government officials, business and industry leaders, attorneys, consultants, engineers, developers, land owners, architects, agribusiness leaders, energy experts, water planning districts, universities, public health officials, solid waste and recycling experts, and many others with a strong interest in Georgia and the Southeast region’s environmental programs.

For more information on the conference schedule, speakers and topics visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *