Tennessee Forests Action Plan
The 2008 Farm Bill amended the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 directing States to develop a long-term Statewide Assessment and Strategy for Forest Resources (a.k.a. Forest Action Plans).
The purpose was to determine the status of the forest resource through an assessment— what's there, who owns it, what are its threats, and how can federal funds help to manage it. Strategies would then need to be developed to address issues raised from the assessment. The completion of the assessment and strategy enables the states to be eligible to apply and compete for federal funds through an annual grant cycle.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry led the effort to complete the assessment and prepare the strategy in this state. It was a goal for this forest action plan not only to address national private forest conservation priorities, but also to be a useful tool to a wide range of organizations and individuals in Tennessee to address forest resource issues pertinent to this state. Where possible it compliments other state agency plans, such as the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency's State Wildlife Action Plan and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Recreation Plan, with a particular focus tied to maintaining water quality and quantity.
Through cooperation and commitment, the assessment and strategies set forth in this statewide forest action plan will be highly relevant and useful to a variety of organizations and individuals. Input from knowledgeable forest resource stakeholders was vital to achieve this objective.
Forest landowners, natural resource professionals, and interested stakeholders were all a part of this planning process since the start. Former Department of Agriculture Commissioner Ken Givens appointed a Steering Committee to guide and give oversight to the work. The Steering Committee in turn enlisted the help of a diverse team of recognized experts to conduct the assessment and formulate appropriate strategies to address the findings. This team, known as the Forest Resource Assessment Working Committee, labored steadily for over a year to make sure the results of their work were both credible and highly useful to the forestry community.
Tennessee's forest resource assessment provides a comprehensive analysis of the forest-related conditions, trends, threats, and opportunities within the state using a combination of qualitative, quantitative, and geospatial data that provides information relevant to key issues to the state while also addressing national priorities of conserving, protecting and enhancing the forest resource. The assessment was done collaboratively with key partners and stakeholders to ensure that critical issues were captured, and allowed focus of federal and state resources on priority landscape areas with the greatest opportunity to address shared management priorities and achieve measurable outcomes. Program input was solicited from the USDA State Technical Committee at two of their annual allocation meetings. Additionally, three of the USDA State Technical Committee members served on the Assessment's Steering Committee and four served on the Assessment's Working Committee.
Tennessee's forest resource strategy follows the assessment by providing a long-term, comprehensive, coordinated plan for investing state, federal, and partner resources to address the management and landscape priorities identified in the assessment. It incorporates existing statewide forest resource management plans, and provides the basis for future program, agency, and partner coordination.
The dominant issues identified in the assessment were grouped together under seven broad categories. The issue categories identified include: Forest Health, Public Benefits, Private Lands, Urban Forestry, Forest Industry, Education and Outreach, and Wildlife and Natural Heritage.
With the aide of resource professionals with proven skills in addressing the issues identified in the assessment, strategies were developed for each issue to seize opportunities and minimize threats to Tennessee's forest resources.
These strategies when utilized in cooperation with our partners will help to:
- Conserve working forest landscapes
- Protect forests from harm
- Enhance public benefits from trees and forests