Why Become a Certified Tree Farm?

You care about your forest. You have a plan and manage it well. Why not get the recognition and support you deserve? NH Tree Farm Program certification has several benefits:

  1. Certification itself recognizes landowners who practice high quality forest management for timber products, wildlife habitat, water quality, and recreational opportunities.
  1. Belonging to the NH Tree Farm Program offers access to opportunities to learn more about forest-related issues and to interact with New Hampshire Tree Farmers and foresters.
  1. The only cost for participating in the NH Tree Farm Program is the cost of preparing or updating a forest management plan. The NH Tree Farm Program’s inspecting foresters volunteer their time to certify and re-inspect Tree Farms in the state, but may charge a fee for drafting or updating management plans.
  1. Proof of Tree Farm certification also serves as documentation of stewardship in the New Hampshire Current Use program.
  1. The Tree Farm Program is a global third-party certification system. A certified New Hampshire Tree Farm receives a certificate from the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). The national American Tree Farm System (ATFS) works in Washington, D.C., to advocate for legislation on behalf of Tree Farmers all over the country. ATFS also works for better access to markets for Tree Farm certified wood and for programs that help landowners share costs for management plans.

Is My Property Eligible?

For your property to qualify as a New Hampshire Tree Farm you must own a minimum of 10 contiguous acres of forested land. The acres may include features such as food plots, water resources, Christmas tree farms, orchards, and non-forested areas as long as they are an integrated part of the forest system.

You also need to have a written management plan drafted by, or approved and signed by, a New Hampshire licensed forester. The plan must address your management goals for your land while meeting the American Tree Farm System (ATFS)’s “Standards of Sustainability for Forest Certification.” A sample template of a New Hampshire Tree Farm Management plan is attached below and can serve as a guide to assist you and your forester in preparing a plan that meets the ATFS Standards of Sustainability.

How Do I Get Started?

If you are currently working with a New Hampshire licensed forester who is an inspector with the NH Tree Farm Program, all you need to do is to have that individual inspect your Tree Farm and review your management plan. If everything is up-to-date and compliant with the national standards, your inspecting forester can fill out an inspection form indicating that you are eligible for certification.

If you are not quite ready for full certification, your forester can help you get there by helping you develop or update your plan. You may also choose to designate your property as a Pioneer Tree Farm. The Pioneer Tree Farm category allows interested landowners who may not quite meet the American Forest Foundation standards to participate in the American Tree Farm System, while working toward certification. See “What is a Pioneer Tree Farm” attached below to learn more.

If you are not currently working with a NH Tree Farm Program inspecting forester, you can contact your County Chair, who can meet with you personally or provide you with a list of inspecting foresters in your area. County Chairs can also answer any questions you might have about the program. You can also contact NH Tree Farm Program Administrator Rita Carroll (rcarroll@forestsociety.org, 603-224-9945 x331) for more information.

How Do I Maintain Good Standing?

It’s important to continue the high-quality forest management that allows your New Hampshire Tree Farm to remain third-party certified. Remember to periodically review and update your management plan, or to ask your forester to help you. To remain in good standing, your New Hampshire Tree Farm will periodically be inspected by an inspecting forester from the NH Tree Farm Program, who will document your property’s compliance with the American Tree Farm System’s standards. There are three different types of inspections that may take place within the NH Tree Farm Program:

  1. Monitoring Inspections: Once your property is inspected and certified as a New Hampshire Tree Farm, it will undergo a “Monitoring Inspection” once every six years. Both you and your inspecting forester will be reminded when your New Hampshire Tree Farm is due for inspection. Monitoring inspections provide excellent opportunities for foresters and landowners to touch base and to update contact information as well as other information related to management of the property. It is also a good time to look at your management plan and to update it if necessary. We recommend that you review and update your plan continuously as things happen on the ground; you can use the American Tree Farm Standard’s management plan addendum or even something as simple as a note in the margin to keep track of changes.
  1. Required Sample Inspections: Each year, the American Tree Farm System randomly chooses approximately 50-60 of New Hampshire’s 1,500 Tree Farms as a “Required Sample” of Tree Farms that will need inspection. If your Tree Farm happens to be chosen, you will need to have your inspector inspect your Tree Farm that year, even if it is not due for its Monitoring Inspection. That inspection will reset the clock for when the next Monitoring Inspection is due.
  1. The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) Third Party Assessment: On a national level, ATFS also undergoes a third-party assessment to demonstrate its compliance for Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. Every four years, approximately 25 New Hampshire Tree Farms are chosen as part of that assessment of the ATFS. If your New Hampshire Tree Farm is randomly selected, you will need to have an inspection.

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