The Georgia Forestry Commission
A Century of Service — A Hundred Years of Heart
Long, long before there were people dedicated to the sustainability of the resource, there were trees. Millions upon millions of acres, stretching beyond the horizon in every cardinal direction. In Georgia, where longleaf and slash pine naturally grew, Native Americans made homes in the forests and tools from their bounty. European settlers followed, timber became recognized as a great source of revenue, and its value led to the creation of an industry of seemingly endless supply. That is, until cleared lands outpaced natural regeneration and professional forestry’s founders took notice, and action.
Advocacy for Georgia’s forests mirrored a national push for organized forest management. In 1875, the American Forestry Association was founded for the “protection, propagation, and the planting of useful trees.” By 1880, Georgia ranked first in the South in total lumber production, and in 1888, like-minded forest leaders collaborated to form the Southern Forestry Congress at a meeting in Atlanta.
Desire for forest protection led to the establishment of state forestry departments in every southern state. As a result, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Forestry Act of 1921, providing for a State Board of Forestry. The year 1921 is recognized as the birth year for the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC).
In its report to the 1922 General Assembly, the Board focused on the economic importance of forests to Georgia and potential threats posed by a lack of conservation practices. The report also showed declining timber harvests, the waning naval stores industry, increasing soil erosion, and rising state unemployment from forest depletion.
One hundred years have brought monumental change to the forest industry and to the state agency that protects and conserves the public and private forest resource by providing leadership, service and education. Yet some of the foundational issues raised a century ago ring familiar today. While Georgia landscapes are covered with more than 24 million acres of trees, land use changes pose an ongoing threat to forest sustainability. Through ongoing assessment and reporting protocols, the GFC addresses individual challenges with detailed strategies. Every day, science guides dedicated GFC professionals who recognize their responsibility to a resource that provides a truly remarkable variety of benefits to us all.
GOING FORWARD & LOOKING BACK
“I will continue to work every day — alongside great organizations like the Georgia Forestry Commission — to protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians and cultivate a climate that is beneficial to those hardworking individuals in the forestry industry and beyond.”
— Brian Kemp, Georgia Governor
“Looking ahead to the next 100 years,
it’s vital that we remain open to change while continuously evaluating and planning for the future, shifting resources, tactics and strategies as we go. This ensures relevance to the forestry industry and helps maintain our status as the #1 forestry state in the nation.”
— Robert Farris, Past Director, Georgia Forestry Commission
“As societies change, the foresters
and forestry agencies that serve them change as well. And I am confident that as Georgia and its citizens move into the next century, GFC will adapt to continue this legacy of service.”
— Gary White, Deputy Director, Georgia Forestry Commission
“Over the past 100 years, GFC has played a major role in making Georgia the #1 forestry state in our nation. I believe it is the most effective and efficient state agency and I am proud to be a Georgian, knowing my taxes are being spent wisely, helping conserve our forestland through wildfire protection, invasive species and insect infestation control, and excellent forest management advice.”
— Larry Spillers, Board Chair, Georgia Forestry Commission
“Over the past 100 years, the GFA+GFC partnership has helped to allow markets for timber and forest products to grow and be competitive, regulations and taxes to be sensible, and private property rights to be at the center of our forest economy.”
— Andres Villegas, President and CEO, Georgia Forestry Association
“Together, we have crafted and implemented some of the strongest Best Management Practices in the Southeast and passed legislation to provide timberland owners relief from property taxes.”
— Andrew Schock, Georgia State Director, The Conservation Fund