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  UGA Report: Georgia forests provide $37 billion in ecological benefits to
state
*UGA researcher's analysis estimates the value of non-timber benefits of
Georgia forestland*

Writer: Sandi Martin, 706/542-2079, [log in to unmask]
Contacts: Rebecca Moore, 706/543-8932, [log in to unmask]; Steve
McWilliams, 478/992-8110, [log in to unmask]
Feb 9, 2011, 10:36

 Athens, Ga. – A University of Georgia researcher has found that Georgia’s
forestlands provide essential ecosystem services to the state worth an
estimated $37 billion annually. This is in addition to the value of timber,
forest products and recreation. This is the first time these indirect
benefits of Georgia’s private forests have been estimated.

 Rebecca Moore, an assistant professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and
Natural Resources, studied the 22 million acres of privately-owned
forestland in Georgia to estimate the benefits of water filtration, carbon
storage, wildlife habitat and aesthetics.

“People value these things,” Moore said, “but because they aren’t like other
goods in that people don’t go out and buy them, it’s difficult to estimate
just how much we value them. The purpose of our research was to do just
that—estimate the value of the ecosystem services provided by private
forests in Georgia.”

Moore’s study was conducted with funding from the Georgia Forestry
Foundation. The findings of her study were announced at the state capitol on
Feb. 9.

“We have had studies for some time that tell us what the economic benefit of
wood and fiber manufacturing in the state is,” said Steve McWilliams,
executive director of the Georgia Forestry Foundation. “This new study
allows us to place a dollar value on those services we receive from the
standing forests, and they are many.”

Moore’s final report, which can be found at
http://www.warnell.uga.edu/news/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Final-Report-1-24-11.pdf,
focused on six types of ecosystem services forests provide: gas and climate
regulation; water quantity and quality; soil formation and stability;
pollination; wildlife habitats; and aesthetic, cultural and passive use.

Moore and her collaborators—graduate students Tiffany Williams andEduardo
Rodriguez and Warnell Assistant Professor Jeffrey
Hepinstall-Cymmerman—analyzed Georgia forestlands by identifying key forest
characteristics that affect ecosystem services and estimating per-acre
values for each different type of forest.These values were estimated from
survey data the team collected and from the results of previous published
studies. What Moore found upon concluding her three-year study is that
Georgia’s private forests provide an estimated $37 billion annual benefit to
Georgia residents. The values can vary widely—between $200 to $13,000 per
acre—depending on the location and ecology of the land, Moore said.

“Understanding the value of these benefits of forestland is important,”
Moore said, “because it allows us to make better land use decisions. The
ecological services forestlands provide are incredibly beneficial to
Georgia, and you receive these benefits whether or not you own forestland.
Many people think of them as free. But if we lose forestland, we risk losing
these benefits.”

McWilliams said he hopes the results of Moore’s study focusing specifically
on Georgia will result in public policy decisions that help us conserve
Georgia’s working forests. “It carries a lot of weight when we can talk
about Georgia forests to Georgia legislators and Georgia opinion leaders,”
McWilliams concluded.

The Georgia Forestry Association is a conservation organization based in
Forsyth. It works with landowners to adopt sound land management practices
so that their forests will help provide clean air and water, soil
conservation, wildlife habitats, recreation and timber products.

For more information on the Georgia Forestry Association, see
www.gfagrow.org.

For more information on the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural
Resources, see http://www.forestry.uga.edu/.


-- 
Dr. Teri Hamlin
North Region Agriculture Education
Georgia Department of Education
204C Four Towers University of Georgia
Athens, Ga 30602
706-552-4461 / 706-540-0032
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