Forest Stewardship Program
Forest Stewardship is defined
as active management of forests and related resources to
keep these lands in a productive and healthy condition
for present and future generations, and to increase the
economic, environmental and social benefits of these lands.
Forest Stewards are those landowners who manage their forestlands
on a long-term basis by following management objectives
that are multiple resource based, economically viable, conservative
of natural resources and socially, environmentally and ecologically
The Forest Stewardship
Program addresses the improvement and maintenance of timber,
wildlife, soil and water, recreation, aesthetics, as well
as forage resources.
Private forest landowners with at least 20 acres of forest
land and have a desire to manage their ownerships according
to Stewardship principles can participate in the Forest
Stewardship Program. Also, adjacent landowners, with similar
management objectives, may combine their holdings to meet
this acreage limitation.
History of the Forest Stewardship Program
Most new residents come from urban areas where they have
not been exposed to forest management practices. As a
result, misunderstandings often occur when they first
encounter smoke from a controlled burn or witness a stand
of timber being harvested. To an uninformed individual,
these activities can be perceived as environmentally destructive
even though they happen to be a part of a long range multiple
resource plan. In response to complaints from such individuals,
local governments have tended to restrict or regulate
forest management activities, particularly in areas where
there are more interfaces between forestlands and recently
The USDA Forest Service determined additional efforts
must be made to create a positive public image for private
non-industrial landowners and resource professionals in
order to reverse this trend. Otherwise, excessive government
regulations could be created that may discourage PNIF
landowners from retaining ownership of their properties
or carrying out management activities that are beneficial
to themselves and to the environment. For these efforts
to be successful, educational programs that focus on inactive
landowners, enrich the knowledge of resource specialists
and provide information to the general public are an essential
component of the Florida Forest Stewardship Program.
Private non-industrial forest (PNIF) landowners own
almost half of the state's forestlands, and present the
greatest opportunity for making improvements to the supply
and condition of the state's forest resources. These landowners
are motivated by various environmental, economic and intrinsic
goals. Unfortunately, they also tend to have limited knowledge
of the possible alternatives for managing their forestlands
or where to obtain technical assistance to help them realize
Private and public resource professionals are making
a deliberate effort to contact this group of forest landowners
to assess their personal objectives and generate interest
in stewardship management.
Landowners targeted for contact are prioritized as follows:
- those who have performed little or no management on
- those who have managed exclusively for one resource
and wish to diversify their activities
- those who presently manage their properties according
to the stewardship concept and deserve recognition for
Goals and Objectives
The Florida Forest Stewardship Program is designed to
encourage the state's private non-industrial forest landowners
to practice stewardship. Specifically, the program objectives
are as follows:
- Encourage non-industrial landowners to manage
their properties according to the multiple-use concept.
- Increase awareness among the general public of the important
amenities that Florida's forestlands, particularly non-industrial
private forestlands, provide to all citizens of the state.
- Improve coordination among natural resource agencies
and groups, both public and private, to better serve the
state's landowners and achieve common goals.
Benefits to Landowners
Landowners will receive:
- A meeting on their property with a team of resource professionals
that will contribute to the development of the plan.
- A customized management plan that is based on the landowner's
objectives. The plan will include forest stand characteristics,
property maps, management recommendations, and a five-year
time line for future planning.
- A loose-leaf binder organized to be the landowner's one
source of information for managing their property.
- Documentation of active management on the property that
may help reduce tax liability.
- An opportunity for future public recognition as a certified "Forest Steward".
- A quarterly Stewardship newsletter developed and distributed
by the University of Florida, IFAS Cooperative Extension
- The peace of mind in knowing that their property is being
managed in a sustainable manner.
Getting into the Program
Contact your local county
forester office of the Florida Forest Service, and tell
them that you would like to have a Forest Stewardship
Plan written for your property. The forester will ask
you to complete a Forest Stewardship Application and answer
any additional questions that you may have about the program.
Once the application is competed and returned to the
county forester, a meeting will be scheduled between you
and the resource professionals who will develop your plan.
For ease of signing up in the Forest Stewardship Program,
you may complete the stewardship
application, print, and send to: Conservation Programs
Manager, Florida Forest Service, 3125 Conner Blvd., Tallahassee,
Plan Development and Preparation
It is the landowner's responsibility to select the primary
natural resource professional who will develop the plan.
This lead professional will then contact the other resource
specialists and schedule the field meeting.
Landowners that own more than 160 acres of land are encouraged
to choose a private consultant rather than an agency professional
to prepare their management plan. The services of a private
consultant can be advantageous in a long-term commitment
to land management activities and the periodic need for
on the ground services. Often times, state agency personnel
are pulled away from management activities to address
other matters and may not be available to assist the landowner
Financial Assistance for Plan Development
Landowners who hire a private natural resource consultant
may be eligible to receive assistance with the plan preparation
expenses depending on available funding. The cost of a
plan is based on the size of the landowner's property.
In many cases the landowner may have no out of pocket
expense for their Stewardship Plan. To initiate the payment
process, the lead natural resource consultant and landowner
must complete the "Agreement, Forest Stewardship
Program, Consultant Management Plan Preparation"
form and receive approval from the Stewardship Coordinator
in Tallahassee prior to the field visit. Once the plan
is completed and approved by all parties, the consultant
will submit a bill to the State. Any charges above the
established Stewardship rate are the responsibility of
Stewardship Forest Certification
Certification is the award reserved for landowners that
have consistently practiced good management on their land,
and followed the recommendations within their Stewardship
Plan. Some landowners that have been practicing good forest
stewardship even before they received their written plan
may be eligible immediately for certification, while other
may take several years to complete their recommended practices
and be awarded certification. Contact your local county
forester to determine if you are ready for certification.
The forester will complete a checklist, forward it to
the Conservation Programs Manager, and will schedule an
on-site inspection to view the landowner's accomplishments
with a Stewardship Certification team. If the Stewardship
Certification Team agrees that the landowner has shown
good progress, he or she will be given a Stewardship sign
to display on their property and will receive a laser-etched
walnut plaque, stating their certification status, for
display in their home.
Forest Stewardship Program on UF website
Contact Us For information, please contact:
Your local County Forester or
Tony Grossman, Conservation Programs Manager
Florida Forest Service
3125 Conner Blvd., R-2
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1650
Telephone: 850/ 414-9907