COCHRAN, GA – In celebration of Earth Day at Bleckley Elementary School, Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), made a landmark announcement for the agency recognizing that forest biomass is a carbon neutral renewable energy source. The Georgia Forestry Association applauds Administrator Pruitt for taking this decisive action. Biomass energy markets strengthen the economic viability, health and sustainability of Georgia’s 22 million acres of privately-owned working forests and the communities that depend on them.
“Administrator Pruitt’s announcement today reflects the clear scientific consensus on forest biomass,” said Andres Villegas, president and CEO of the Georgia Forestry Association. “The Agency’s recognition of biomass as a renewable, carbon neutral source of energy will maintain and enhance markets for small-diameter trees, which encourages landowners to invest in forest health, and ultimately, to keep their land in trees.”
Administrator Pruitt’s announcement affirms years of climate research that clearly and consistently documents the carbon benefits of forest biomass energy and recognizes the long-term natural carbon cycle of forests. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), for example, points to sustainable forest management as playing a critical role in mitigating the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, a position that is supported by more than 100 forest scientist.
“Georgia’s economic vitality is heavily dependent on working forests,” said Hugh Thompson, GFA chairman and President of Pierce Timber in Blackshear, GA. “This announcement will have a direct impact on rural Georgia, supporting jobs and continued economic growth for Georgia’s most sustainable industry.”
Healthy markets for forests have been shown to significantly impact the overall volume, health and vitality of Georgia’s forests. Georgia is recognized as a global leader in biomass production, leading the nation in the overall harvest volume and the export of wood pellets and wood chips. Georgia has been able to achieve this status while increasing overall tree volume since 1953. According to a recent report from the US Forest Service, Forest Inventory Analysis (FIA) data for 2016 showed overall net growth of Georgia forestland exceeding removals by 44 percent.
Located in the heart of one of the world’s most productive wood baskets, Georgia’s working forests have been sustainably managed – with landowners continually planting more trees than are harvested – for more than a century. They provide more than 144,000 jobs and $35.2 billion in economic impact to the state while providing clean air, clean water, diverse habitats, and recreational opportunities. Thanks to healthy markets for forestry – including 5,000 life sustaining products – and a commitment to public policy that supports forest landowners, Georgia is consistently ranked as the top forestry state in the nation.
About the Georgia Forestry Association
Since 1907, the Georgia Forestry Association, headquartered in Forsyth, Georgia, has served the state’s forest landowners, forest-based businesses and forest product manufacturers, advocating for a healthy business and political climate for forestry in the state. As the state’s authoritative voice in the industry, GFA works to engage its members and to help establish a foundation for their continued prosperity. The Association’s promise is to serve its members by keeping them protected, connected, and empowered. Learn more at www.gfagrow.org.