(04/08/22) AMITE CITY, La. — The 2022 Florida Parishes Forestry Forum held in Hammond recently provided local landowners with the latest information on the industry and updates on the recovery from Hurricane Ida.
For forestry growers, the past year has been one with lots of adversity. From a lack of mills to forest devastation caused by the storm, the industry is facing many challenges, said LSU AgCenter forestry agent Whitney Wallace.
“After all that we’ve been through over the past year, we decided to use this forum as a way to turn our focus to regeneration,” she said. “In other words, we want to make lemonade out of our lemons.”
According to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Hurricane Ida caused severe damage to 167,622 acres of forestland in 11 parishes in Louisiana. Roughly 57,000 acres had more than 50% damage and 47,402 acres had 30% to 50% damage.
An estimated 181 million cubic feet of timber were affected, with 86 million cubic feet of pine timber and 95 million cubic feet of hardwood timber.
The parishes with the highest timber volume losses in southeast Louisiana were Tangipahoa, with 88 million cubic feet, and Livingston, with 33 million cubic feet.
Wallace said the forum is a professional development meeting made up of LSU AgCenter extension specialists and other forestry experts.
The list of speakers on the program provided a wealth of information to producers who lost a tremendous amount of timber that may never be harvested.
With the amount of damaged timber on the ground, insects are now a concern. U.S. Forest Service entomologist Wood Johnson said an indirect cause of pine decline in the years following a hurricane is infestation by bark beetles.
“Although we don’t understand all the components involved, observations of storm-impacted trees have shown that pine that appear healthy immediately after a hurricane may possibly die gradually within six months to two years after the storm,” he said.
Carbon credits were another topic covered at the forum. Buck Vandersteen, executive director of the Louisiana Forestry Association, said major corporations that generate greenhouse gases will pay for carbon credits to offset the amount of carbon they produce.
“You could say that we are helping to save these companies, by selling them carbon credits,” he said.
Tim Foley, policy director Southern Group of State Foresters joined the meeting virtually from Atlanta to discuss the carbon offset program.
“Forest owners can be presented financial incentives to improve the uptake and storage of carbon on their forestland,” Foley said.
Foley discussed the amount of carbon that can be claimed by an individual landowner and how to navigate this new forest management practice.
Eric Smith, executive director of agricultural education for Louisiana FFA, talked about the organization’s forestry contest. Over the course of 43 years, he said, the contest has evolved into an industry-based assessment that is considered workforce training.
“Today’s contest has the traditional practicums of tree ID and mensuration, but it dives deeper into silviculture practices by way of practicums in tree disorders, conservation standards and topographic map reading,” he said.
Smith explained how the forestry contests are used as a way for young people to meet like-minded rural youth and get introduced to career opportunities.
Other topics discussed at the meeting included chronic wasting disease found in north Louisiana deer, the problem of timber theft and an update on NRCS cost-share programs for landowners.
Wallace said the forestry forum engages partnerships among the diverse landowners and professionals that play a collaborative role in the management of southeastern U.S. forests.
Sponsors of the forum included First South Farm Credit, Soterra, Louisiana Land Bank, Weyhauser and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
U.S. Forest Service entomologist Wood Johnson said one cause of pine decline in the years following a hurricane is infestation by bark beetles. Johnson was a presenter at the Florida Parishes Forestry Forum held in Amite on April 1. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter
Buck Vandersteen, executive director of the Louisiana Forestry Association, visits with a forest landowner during the Florida Parishes Forestry Forum in Amite on April 1. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter
LSU AgCenter forestry agent Whitney Wallace, speaking at the Florida Parishes Forestry Forum in Amite on April 1, told forestry growers that the past year has been one with lots of adversity stemming from a lack of mills and forest devastation caused by the storm. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter