Tennessee's forest resource assessment provides a comprehensive analysis of the forest-related conditions, trends, threats, and opportunities within the state. It uses a combination of qualitative, quantitative, and geospatial data 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. 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. With the aid of resource professionals who had proven skills in addressing the issues identified in the assessment, strategies were developed for each issue which would seize opportunities and minimize threats to Tennessee's forest resources.
Increasing the capacity to provide forest landowners with comprehensive, multi-resource forest management planning
In 1999, an estimated 45% of Tennessee’s forestlands were greater than 50 years old. By 2007 58% of Tennessee’s forestlands were greater than 50 years old. With continued aging, Tennessee’s forests will be more susceptible to native and non-native forest pests. Employing strategies to diversify age structure and species composition while maintaining tree growth of the forest by utilizing science based forest stand regeneration practices are necessary to alter this trend. This provides opportunity to expand markets for hardwood forest products, including biomass, biofuels, and urban waste wood.
Proper management of forested riparian areas and forested wetlands to meet water quality and wildlife habitat protection goals
Nitrogen, phosphorus, and excess sediment are major pollutants in Tennessee’s waterways. Forested riparian buffers serve as water retention and infiltration areas, trapping sediment from surface flows and stabilizing stream banks which reduces soil erosion. Lack of forest cover eliminates an effective defense against degradation of Tennessee’s water quality and ecosystem health. Providing opportunities to create, enhance and maintain riparian buffers for landowners and municipalities will help ensure our waterways are protected and will enhance the water quality and quantity in the watershed.
Proper forest use and management to provide vital values, goods, and services to the public, including air quality, water quality, and economic health
Between 1990 and 2000, Tennessee experienced an estimated 360,000 acre increase in urban area, resulting in the loss of 178,000 acres of forestland to urban use. If similar rates of change continue, an additional 1.2 million acres of forestland could be urbanized before 2050. Urban expansion, regardless of rate, will replace previous land uses at the cost of some forestland. Increasing the capacity to provide forest landowners with comprehensive, multi-resource forest management planning, along with educating state and local planning officials on development issues in the wildland-urban interface, will conserve working forested landscapes while protecting water quality and landowners from the threat of wildfires.