Open Journal of Forestry
2012. Vol.2, No.3, 159-166
Published Online July 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 159
Sustainability and Forest Certification as a Framework for a
Capstone Forest Resource Management Plans Course
Christine M. Watts, Lauren S. Pile, Thomas J. Straka
School of Agricult ural, Forest, and Environmental Sciences, Clemson University, Clemson, USA
Email: tstraka@clemson . edu
Received March 9th, 2012; re vis ed A pril 10th, 2012; accepted May 8th, 2012
Forest sustainability is the foundation of forestry and modern forest management. Originally the central
concept was sustained-yield and maximum timber production and then multiple-use and other non-timber
values gained importance. After the Rio Conference and development of the Montréal Process in the early
1990’s, forest sustainability rapidly gained importance and various forest certification schemes developed
to certify forest products that were grown using sustainable forest management. Forest sustainability and
forest certification have become critical topics in forestry curricula. The American Tree Farm System is
one of the important North American forest certification organizations. Modern forestry curricula often
include a capstone course where forest management plans are developed. We describe a capstone course
at Clemson University under development that uses the management standards and management plan
template of the American Tree Farm System as a framework for students to develop actual forest man-
agement plans for local forest owners. The material is integrated into a series of four courses leading up to
the capstone course. The course offered a hands-on approach for students to create management plans us-
ing actual certification standards and the system’s management plan template. In addition, students re-
ceived specialized training to qualify as auditors for the certification system. This is an example of forest
sustainability being integrated into the forestry curriculum.
Keywords: Forest Certification; Forest Sustainability; American Tree Farm System (ATFS); Forestry
Sustainability is a fundamental component and integral foun-
dation of forestry (Floyd, 2002). Sustained yield is an elemental
forestry system that produces a sustained annual flow of timber.
Over time the product that flowed from the sustained yield
forest was expanded to include more than timber, including
wildlife, recreation, water quality, and aesthetics. The expanded
outputs were based on a concept called “multiple use” that was
intended to simultaneously consider the ecological, social, and
economic framework of the forest (Straka, 2009).
Recently, public expectation and market forces have caused
forest resource management to further develop a more explicit
recognition of forest sustainability concepts (McConnell, 1966;
Maser, 1994; Sample & Sedjo, 1996). Forest sustainability has
developed into a global issue that relates equally to the vast
commercial temperate forest production areas and deforestation
in the tropical forests (Schelhas & Greenberg, 1996; Maser &
Smith, 2001; Williams, 2006).
The development of forest sustainability as an important
global issue is well-documented (Maser, 1994; Williams, 2006;
Straka & Layton, 2010). The core problem is increasing human
populations and urbanization that cause expanding demands on
forests to produce more food, fuel, and timber. The need for
additional food sources often create demands for new croplands
and pastures, resulting in forest depletion.
Forest depletion has occurred throughout human history
when forests were not replanted after harvesting. Deforestation
impacted Mediterranean Europe in ancient Greece and the Ro-
man Empire; in the mid- to late-Middle Ages much of the rest
of Europe was deforested; during the early centuries of the
Common Era it impacted Central Asia and China; and the
United States was clearcut region by region in the mid- to late
nineteenth century. The advance of civilization seems to en-
courage deforestation and it is still a global problem today,
especially in the tropical rain forest region and even in some
boreal forest regions (World Commission on Forests and Sus-
tainable Development, 1999; Williams, 2006).
Both ecological and economic problems result from defores-
tation. Forests are the economic foundation of some societies,
provide habitats necessary to support biological diversity, and
contribute towards regulation of global climate change (United
Nations Forum on Forests, 2012). The effects of deforestation
are devastating: soil erosion, changes in the hydrologic cycle
(ground water), vegetation changes, increased watershed evapo-
ration, lower rivers due to siltation, and species extinctions.
Forests are storehouses for carbon and their loss can result in
increased greenhouse gas emissions. Nations with strong forest
economies have experienced lower standards of living after
deforestation (World Commission on Forests and Sustainable
Development, 1999).
The sustained yield concept developed in eighteenth century
Europe as the linchpin of forestry as a method to ensure a con-
stant supply of wood, fuel, game species, and other products
from the forest (Davis & Fairfax, 1980; Steen, 1984; Davis et
al., 2001). The owner of a castle often required his forest to
generate annual income to support the estate, or a village might
require a local forest to supply a steady source of fuelwood.
This concept was based on a forest regulation system that con-
trolled growth, mortality, and harvest. Sustained yield ensured
this steady supply of wood without much regard to the other
forest resources; its main goal was to prevent a timber famine
that could drastically impact the local populati o n or economy.
Sustained yield is integral to the financial and economic
character of forestry; it guaranteed a maximum even flow of
timber products (and resulting cash flow) to the industrial and
investor owners of the forest (Clutter et al., 1983; Leuschner,
1984; Bettinger, 2009). Over the past quarter century the re-
lated concepts of forest sustainability and ecosystem manage-
ment have evolved to consider the forest’s non-economic inter-
ests, its nature as a functioning ecosystem, and its components
and natural processes as necessary for ecosystem productivity
maintenance (von Gadow, 2002; Lindenmayer & Franklin,
2003). It now has a panoptic multifaceted context that embraces
more than functioning on an ecosystem; economic, ecological,
and social values are integrated to form the underpinning of
forest sustainability (Washburn et al., 1999; Davis et al., 2001;
Innes et al., 2005; Sample & Anderson, 2008).
Forest sustainability in the management of forest resources is
supported by forest certification programs that attest that spe-
cific standards are met (Perera & Vlosky, 2006). Forest certifi-
cation can be performance-based or systems-based and is pri-
marily concerned with current forest management practices and
their immediate impact on the environment (Fischer et al.,
2005). Many certification systems track the forest products
through the commercial chain, from the harvesting site to the
final users (chain of custody) (Abusow, 2004; Holvoet & Muys,
2004; Hanson et al., 2006). Forest certification systems and for-
est sustainability concepts have contributed to improved natural
resource management and enhanced environmental protection
(Vianna, 1996; Floyd, 2001; Rametsteiner & Simula, 2003).
They are still evolving and their importance is increasing; their
impact is contributing to new definitions of forest resource
The concepts of sustainability and forest certification are
now important components of forest resource management
courses. We describe how a forest certification program is be-
ing utilized as the framework for a forestry curriculum. Our
objective is to illustrate how these concepts can be integrated in
to a capstone forestay course.
Forest Sustainability
Recognition of forest sustainability as a global challenge be-
gan to develop a few decades ago. The first global agreement
on sustainable forest management, a Statement of Forest Prin-
ciples, was produced at the United Nations Conference on En-
vironment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992
(often referred to as the Rio Conference or the Earth Summit)
(Lindenmayer & Franklin, 2003). Eight years later, the United
Nations Forum on Forests was established to promote “the
management, conservation, and sustainable development of all
types of forests” (United Nations Forum on Forests, 2012). In
2007 the “Forest Instrument,” a global agreement on the frame-
work for national action and international cooperation to ad-
vance sustainable forest management, was adopted by the
United Nations General Assembly. Just a year after the Rio
Conference, an International Seminar of Experts on Sustainable
Development of Boreal and Temperate Forests was held in
Montréal. This conference led to the development of the “Mon-
tréal Process” that identifies criteria and indicators for sustain-
able forest management (Montréal Process Working Group,
The Montréal Process produced seven key criteria and seven
related thematic areas that are now considered fundamental to
sustainable forestry on a regional or national level. They form a
structure for systems that certify forest sustainability and are
now generally considered an implicit definition of sustainable
forest management (Montréal Process Working Group, 2012).
These seven thematic areas are extent of forest resources, bio-
logical diversity, forest health and vitality, productive functions
of forest resources, protective functions of forest resources,
social and economic functions, and legal, policy, and institu-
tional framework (Montréal Process Working Group, 2012).
The ecosystem approach is a second framework for sustain-
able development of forest resources that was developed by the
Convention on Biological Diversity (Lindenmayer & Franklin,
2003). The Convention defined it as “a strategy for the inte-
grated management of land, water, and living resources that
promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable
way.” The approach has three objectives: conservation, sus-
tainable use, and equitable sharing of benefits. The idea is that
maintenance of fully-functioning ecosystems leads to sustain-
able development by managing the range of demands placed on
the forest. Adaptive management, a system to enhance decision
making, is a requirement, as ecosystems are complex organisms
which are not fully understood. Another requirement is that the
forest ecosystem’s intrinsic values and tangible benefits should
be shared in a fair and equitable manner. This approach pro-
motes practices that are environmentally, socially, and eco-
nomically consistent.
Forest Sustainability Certification Systems
The last two decades of the twentieth century saw the devel-
opment of forest sustainability as a recognized global problem.
The public’s focus was on massive deforestation of tropical
rainforests and the rapid loss of biodiversity. The International
Tropical Timber Organization was pressured by several envi-
ronmental groups in 1988 to develop a labeling program to
identify tropical wood products produced under sustainable
forest management principles. Eco-labeling is a claim (tag) at-
tached to a product that indicated its environmental characteris-
tics and consumer demand for eco-labeling increased (Perera &
Vlosky, 2006). This allows consumers to identify environmen-
tally-friendly products and direct their purchasing power to
firms producing those products.
The United States, Canada, and Europe have significant en-
vironmental regulations that encompass both private and public
forest lands. Some consumers, especially those associated with
environmental groups, were not confident that these govern-
ment regulations were effective enough. An opportunity devel-
oped for environmental groups and forest industry trade asso-
ciations, among others, to develop certification programs to
ensure forest products met specified sustainable forest man-
agement requirements. Essentially, forest certification assures
consumers that the timber purchased was managed with eco-
logical and sustainable forest management principles.
Some forest certification pressure is indirect. The US Green
Building Council has introduced Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design (LEED) to improve the environmental
performance and economic return in buildings (US Green Buil d-
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
ing Council, 2012). Even logging organizations have set up
certification programs to ensure that harvesting systems support
sustainability objectives (Vianna et al., 1996). Forest certifica-
tion systems must involve all the stakeholders to be effective,
including consumers, retailers, producers, mills, environmental
organizations, trade groups, professional societies, and certifi-
cation groups (Vianna et al., 1996). Since it includes standards
that the basis of an assessment, a regulated “label”, and an or-
ganization to manage the system, certification systems are usu-
ally best handled by a third party or independent organization.
Forestry can invoke many emotional issues and vested interests;
identifying organizations to perform truly independent third
party audits can sometimes be challenging.
After the Rio Conference several environmental groups met
to develop an independent global organization that would cer-
tify forest products there were grown using sustainable forest
management. These schemes took two forms: process-based
and performance-based. Process-based systems focus on a sys-
tematic approach to management and performance-based sys-
tems specify performance standards that must be obtained. A
system can contain both elements. Performance-based systems
tend to be preferred by environmental groups as they include
specific environmental protection standards (Innes et al., 2005).
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was formed in 1993
as a performance-based forest certification scheme (Forest
Stewardship Council, 2012). FSC does not certify forest them-
selves, but accredits other organizations to do the actual on-the-
ground certifications (called certification bodies). FSC certifi-
cation covers nearly 150 million ha of forest land in about 80
countries (Forest Stewardship Council, 2011). FSC certification
standards are based on ten primary principles and it has strong
chain of custody procedures. It is controlled by a three chamber
governing body representing economic or commercial groups,
socially beneficial forest management interests, and environ-
mentally friendly forest stewardship interests. Thus, they oper-
ate via multiple stakeholder negotiations (Cashore et al., 2004;
Fischer et al., 2005).
In 1994 the American Forest and Paper Association, an in-
dustry trade organization, established the Sustainable Forestry
Initiative (SFI) to provide sustainable forest management stan-
dards for forest industry lands (Sustainable Forestry Initiative,
2012). Since then, SFI has become an independent organization
and nearly 75 million ha of North American forest land are now
certified to their standards (Sustainable Forestry Initiative,
2011). Participants are mainly forest industry firms and timber
investment management organizations. SFI uses a hybrid of
process-based and performance-based standards and is certified
by independent third parties (Fischer et al., 2005).
In 1999 the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certi-
fication schemes (PEFC) was established as an independent
non-governmental third-party organization that recognizes local
forest certification schemes. PEFC is an umbrella organization
that endorses national certification systems developed through
multi-stakeholder processes and is tailored to local priorities
and conditions. Initially it had a European focus, but now is
global and covers almost 250 million ha of forest land (Pro-
gramme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, 2012).
In the United States, the American Tree Farm System (ATFS)
date back to 1941 and originally had a wood supply orientation,
but has always promoted sustainable forestry . The ATFS is one
of the oldest certifiers and its definition of sustainability has
changed over the last seventy years to more closely reflect cur-
rent definitions. It is performance-based and certification is
based on a set of standards and guidelines, and it offers a group
certification for tracts under the same management (American
Tree Farm System, 2012a). Most of the certified forest is
owned by family forest owners, and nearly 11 million ha are
covered by this program (American Tree Farm System, 2012b).
Both SFI and ATFS are recognized by PEFC (Programme for
the Endorsement of Forest Certification, 2012).
The objectives, standards, and criteria used by the various
forest certification groups tend to be similar. However, struc-
tural differences in the programs result in significant differ-
ences in terms of what is permitted on the ground. Rules may
vary due to differences in regional or national laws or standards
(Cashore et al., 2004). Differences tend to result from the focus
of the founding groups; environmental groups established
standards somewhat different than those established by forest
industry groups (Innes et al., 2005). Below the ATFS standards
are used to illustrate standards. The ATFS specifically designed
these standards for small woodland owners, with requirements
for scale of operations practiced on family forests in the United
States (American Tree Farm System, 2012a). Another system,
FSC, for example, founded by environmental groups, stresses
basic goals minimizing forest conversion, respect of interna-
tional workers’ rights, respect for human rights with particular
respond to indigenous peoples, limited use of hazardous chemi-
cals, no corruption, and special protection for cultural areas
(Innes et al., 2005).
ATFS’s eight standards illustrate the types of rules and poli-
cies that form forest certification systems: 1) Commitment to
practicing sustainable forestry, demonstrated by forest vitality
and developing and implementing a sustainable forest man-
agement plan; 2) Compliance with laws at federal, state, and
local levels; 3) Reforestation and afforestation, with restocking
of desired species of trees on harvested and non-stocked areas,
consistent with the forest owner’s management objectives; 4)
Air, water, and soil protection; 5) Fish, wildlife, and biodiver-
sity must be conserved; 6) forest aesthetics must be recognized;
7) Unique historical, archeological, cultural, geological, bio-
logical, or ecological special sites must be protected; and 8)
Forest product harvests and other activities must be conducted
in accordance with the management plan and must consider
other values (American Tree Farm System, 2010).
Sustainable forest management and forest certification have
gained wide acceptance over the last two decades and around
ten percent of the world’s forest is now under some form of
forest certification (Durst et. al., 2006). Areas managed under
certified sustainable forestry have grown steadily and the con-
cept has found strong support from environmental groups, non-
governmental organizations, and even forest industry and tim-
ber investment groups (Floyd, 2002). All certification systems
have costs. Forest management activities must be changed,
special inventories might be required, and tracking systems will
be needed. Production costs can sometimes increase by up to 25
percent. Especially in developing counties these costs can be
prohibitive (Vianna et al., 1996). To date, most of the certified
forests have been industrial and investment ownerships. A sig-
nificant portion of the world’s forests are in small private hold-
ings. These ownerships will need to be addressed as certifica-
tion grows (Washburn, 1999). Measures to assist these owners
may be necessary. The one forest certification system that is
designed specifically for these small ownerships or family for-
ests is the ATFS (American Tree Farm System, 2010).
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 161
Forestry Capstone Courses
Forestry capstone courses are typically last-semester sen-
ior-level forest resource management plans courses that inte-
grate all prior knowledge gained in the forestry curriculum.
They often involve the development of an actual forest resource
management plan. In the past, these plans were expected to
stress timber management. Since the main thrust was develop-
ing timber growth and yield information and silvicultural man-
agement prescriptions, these courses were often taught on the
university forest or some other contrived forest tract. Today,
multiple use and nontimber resources are usually emphasized,
and the course is now commonly taught on tracts owned by
actual forest owners. This means the students obtain actual
management objectives from the forest owner and must develop
a management plan that satisfies that forest owner. Once the
student has the management objectives, he or she must describe
the forest resource (do the field work to obtain timber and re-
source data), outline the planned management activities neces-
sary to achieve the objectives, and summarize the results ex-
pected from the management plan (Straka, 1993).
Forestry capstone courses tend to be integrative, learning-
centered, problem-based, and landscape level focused (Vaux,
1975; Arthur & Thompson, 1999; Thompson et al., 2003; Pro-
kopy, 2009). They are integrative by nature. The student must
synthesize prior course work from fields such as biometrics,
silviculture, economics, forest management, valuation, soils,
forest harvesting-operations, forest fire control, and forest pest
management. T his means that all prior course work is combined
into one terminal cohesive forest resource management plan
(Straka, 1993). At the same time the focus tends to be towards
problems students are likely to encounter on the job, problem-
solving or learning, and on the broad ecosystems or landscape
(Vaux, 1975; Straka, 1993; Arthur & Thompson, 1999; Thomp-
son et al, 2003; Prokopy, 2009). The capstone course and the
students are forced to adapt to the changing demands of the
profession (Sample et al., 1999; Straka & Childers, 2006; Mun-
sell, 2009).
Forest resource management plans are written for various
types of owners; for example, family forests, industrial forests,
and public lands. The most traditional forest management plan
is written for the small family forest owner property by a state
forestry commission forester or consulting forester (Straka,
1993). In the United States, private forest owners collectively
control 56 percent of the forest land and 62 percent of this pri-
vate forest land is controlled by family forest owners (or family
forest owners control 35 percent of all forest land in the United
States (Smith et al., 2009). Ninety-two percent of all private
forest owners are family forest owners in the United States
(Butler, 2008). These family forests tend to be small (Straka,
2011) and 53 percent of family forests are less than 40 ha (But-
ler, 2008). This small tract size for family forests has significant
impacts on the practice of sustainable forest management
(Kilgore et al., 2007; Butler, 2008; Daniels et al., 2010; Straka,
2011). Only one in five ha of family forest land is owned by
someone with a management plan and only two in five ha is
owned by someone who has received forest management advice
(Butler, 2008). Of the common forest certification systems in
the United States, the ATFS is the only one with a major focus
on these family forest owners and, thus, with a major focus on a
critical forest management problem. Family forest owners have
specific needs and desires in a management plan and the ATFS
offers a management plan template adapted just to these forest
owners (Melfi et al., 1997; Thrift et al., 1997).
Forestry schools around the United States that utilize a forest
resource management plans format capstone course tend to
stress family forest owners. This is likely to be the first type of
management plan the new forester is asked to develop (Straka,
1993). Some emphasis may also be the older more traditional
timber management plan, as these types of plans are still popu-
lar on forest properties managed with a profit-motive (the type
of tracts managed by consulting foresters for a fee). Timber
management and timber harvesting are certainly part of the
teaching approach we describe. However, the foundation and
emphasis is forest sustainability.
The ATFS Management Plan Template and
Forest Sustainability
During 2011 the American Forest Foundation’s ATFS coop-
erated with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Forest Service and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation
Service (NRCS) to develop a forest resource management plan
template designed especially for family forest owners (Ameri-
can Tree Farm System, 2012c). The advantage of this single
template is that it satisfies the requirements of the ATFS forest
certification system, the USDA Forest Service Forest Steward-
ship Program, and the NRCS forestry cost-share incentive pro-
grams. Detailed instruction guides were developed to assist in
completing and understanding the template, one for foresters
and other natural resource professionals (American Tree Farm
System, 2012d) and one for family forest landowners (Ameri-
can Tree Farm System, 2012e).
The Forest Stewardship Program was established in 1991 by
the USDA Forest Service as a vehicle to encourage develop-
ment of multi-resource family forest management plans. Many
federal cost-share programs require such a management plan.
The Forest Stewardship management plan is commonly ac-
cepted as the established multi-resource forest management
plan and has proven popular with family forest owners (Melfi et
al., 1997; Thrift et al., 1997; USDA Forest Service, 2012). This
management plan also meets NRCS requirements to qualify for
federal financial cost-share assistance programs, usually ad-
ministered at the state-level, for family forest owners to imple-
ment forestry and agroforestry related practices (USDA Natural
Resources Conservation Service, 2012). Typical cost-share pro-
grams are the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the
Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, and the Conservation
Stewardship Program (USDA Natural Resources Conservation
Service, 2012).
The ATFS Forest Management Template is a fairly standard
format for a management plan (American Tree Farm System,
2012c). Like most modern forest resource management plans, it
includes the basic timber management information necessary to
manage a forest stand, but also includes additional resource
information related to forest sustainability issues (Straka, 1993).
A traditional timber-based management plan is still common
forest owners with strong timber and financial objectives (the
kind of forest owner who hires a consulting forester). The tim-
ber management plan focuses on defining the forest’s land area
and type, a timber description, and stand-by stand recommen-
dations for current and future management. Table 1 illustrates
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 163
Table 1.
Basic components of a t raditional timber-oriented forest resource management pla n.
1. Purpose of the plan
a. Location and boundaries
b. Topography
c. Soils
2. Descriptio n of the forest area
d. Prior management history
a. Local communities and population
b. Transportation
3. Economic situation
c. Forest ind u stry
a. Forest sub divisions
b. Management subdivisions
c. Area by type and age class
d. Volume by species and age class
I. Foundation
4. Forest description
e. Accessibility
1. Management objectives
2. Silviculture
a. Rotation age and cutting cycle
3. Regulation b. Allowable cut and cutting budget
a. Timber sale policy
4. Markets b. Logging a nd transportation
5. Forest regeneration
6. Protec ti o n from insec t s , disease, and fire
II. The management plan
7. Administration of the plan
the components of a traditional timber-oriented management
plan and these components are still foundations of modern
management plans (Straka, 1993).
Today’s stewardship-type management plan, the established
family forest management plan that the USDA Forest Service
requires as a multiple-resource, sustainability-oriented man-
agement plan for federal cost-share funding eligibility, includes
the same elements as an ATFS management plan. This makes
sense as that plan type was part of the model for the ATFS plan.
Thus, the ATFS management plan qualifies as a stewardship
plan for federal cost-sharing. Table 2 illustrates the additional
components that an ATFS plan incudes (note that it would still
include the basic timber-oriented components from Table 1).
The classic timber-oriented planning exercise stressed fun-
damental field skills: stand delineation, timber cruising, inven-
tory, stand and stock tables, volume projections, and stand pre-
scription using silvicultural (applied forest ecology) founda-
tions. These are critical skills and they are still stressed as they
have both economic and social value. The ATFS approach al-
lows for enhanced “real-world” interaction with forest owners,
broader multiple-use forest resource management, integration
of forest sustainability and certification principles into the
course framework, and practical auditing of forest sustainability
standards. Forestry students will enter the workforce in an en-
vironment that includes many of the timeliest of forest conser-
vation issues, and the capstone course still develops practical
field skills.
Going back to the ATFS standards discussed above, the dif-
ference in table information shows the forest sustainability
principles that this management template emphasizes. These are
the same standards accepted by the international community as
evidence of sustainable forest management (Shindler & Cramer,
1999; Vogt et al., 2000; Oliver, 2003; McDonald & Lane, 2004;
Klooster, 2005). The ATFS does not start with the forest man-
agement plans capstone course. The intention is that forest sus-
tainability and forest certification are introduced over the stan-
dard junior/senior forestry courses in forest policy, economics,
and management. These would lead to the capstone course.
This is really just a new integrated model to incorporate both
into the curriculum. Current forestry curricula are certainly ex-
pected to cover these topics somewhere (Temu, 1994; Sample
et al., 1999; Luckai, 2002; Gordon, 2006; Temu & Kiwia, 2008)
Forest sustainability has the same respect for the environment
and the same concerns as any other sustainability issue.
The forestry students are introduced to forest sustainability as
a means to promote the vitality of renewable forest resources.
This does not mean nonuse of the forest or that timber harvests
cannot take place. It does mean environmental, economic, and
social benefits must be protected, and that increased public
understanding of the benefits of sustainable forest management
must be a goal. Adaptive management must be part of the
rocess as it is required by PEFC. Forestry students will leave p
Table 2.
Basic add it i on al components of an ATFS forest resource management plan.
1. A management obje ctive that addresses multiple
forest resources, not just timber.
a. Protect special sites and social considerations (special sites, adjacent stand
or ownership concerns, recreation, and access).
b. Air, water, and soil protection (soil protection, roads, streams, wetlands, ponds,
lakeshore, effects of natural disasters, and carbon sequestration (optional)).
c. Fish, wildlife and biodiversity (fish and wildlife, threatened or
endangered species).
2. Forest natural resourc es enhance ment and prote ction.
d. Constra i nts to management of forest resources.
a. Relationship of pasture s and hayfields t o w i l d life habitat.
b. Maintenance recommendations.
3. Management of relat ed resources.
c. Food plots.
a. Best management practices.
b. Forest practices guidelines.
4. General recommendations.
c. Smoke management guidelines for prescribed burning.
5. Management activity schedule and tracking (management activity
by schedule date, stand cost, and expected cost share).
6. Organizations providing local natural resourc e manageme n t
the capstone course with these core forest sustainability con-
Development of an active and adaptive plan that meets the
forest owner’s management objectives and is consistent in
the size of the forest and the scale and intensity of activities.
Development of a plan that complies with all federal, state,
and local laws and regulations.
Development of a plan that ensures timely reforestation and
afforestation with desired tree species that meet the forest
owner’s management objectives.
Development of a plan that protects the environment (air,
water, and soil), that follows state best management prac-
tices, that considers integrated pest management, and that
uses prescribed fire only in terms of management objec-
Development of a plan that conserves biodiversity (fish and
wildlife protected).
Development of a plan that recognizes forest aesthetics.
Development of a plan that protects special sites (historical,
archeological, cu ltural, biological, and ecological).
Development of a plan where forest products harvests and
other activities are conducted in accordance with manage-
ment objectives and consider other forest values.
Forestry students in the United States are introduced to the
topics of forest sustainability and forest certification in various
ways. Forestry curricula rarely include specific courses on these
topics; they are usually integrated into the course work. Their
importance is apparent and appears to be increasing as public
pressure and market demands create a need for these educa-
tional programs to focus on sustainability principles. The topics
are capstone in nature and it is appropriate that they be the cen-
ter of the forestry capstone course.
Utilizing the ATFS management template and sustainable
forest management certification system works very well to
integrate the concepts into the capstone course. Especially ef-
fective is introducing the sustainability and certification sub-
jects sequentially through the forest policy, economic, and man-
agement courses. Student feedback was very positive for the
process and the capstone course. Forestry students quickly re-
alized the importance of the topics and the relevancy to their
careers. The training as an ATFS auditor is an actual credential
they add to their resume and today’s students love credentials.
They also appreciate the practical nature of the capstone course
and the skills learned from dealing with actual family forest
Sustainability is being integrated into more and more college
courses. It has always been part of forestry curricula. However,
its importance has never been higher and the need to stress to
the public forestry’s sustainability foundation has never been
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