|Washington Tree Farm Program and Washington Farm Forestry Association…what’s the difference?
With many of the same members and such similar names, it’s no wonder that Washington Farm Forestry Association and Washington Tree Farm Program are often confused. Both organizations focus on promoting sustainable forestry for small forest landowners—so what is the difference between these two non-profits?
What is Washington Tree Farm Program all about? Washington Tree Farm Program is the State level program of American Tree Farm System (ATFS)—this is where the term “tree farmer” originated over 75 years ago. Nowadays, we use the term more generically to refer to anyone who has a small woodlot and is growing trees.
If you are part of the Washington Tree Farm Program you are a “Certified Tree Farmer.” This means that you have a written management plan and a forester has come out to your property (usually every five years) to ensure you are meeting the American Tree Farm System standards.
By meeting these standards, the timber you produce meets international Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) standards. Certification provides assurance to mills and consumers that the timber products they buy are from a sustainable, well-managed forest. As a Certified Tree Farmer, you are eligible to display the green and white sign and compete for Tree Farmer of the Year recognition.
What does Washington Tree Farm Program do?
• Implements American Tree Farm System (ATFS) certification on the ground in Washington State—conducts inspections and manages the certification system.
• Administers the Tree Farmer of the Year Recognition Program—provides special awards and puts together an annual luncheon program to recognize the best Certified Tree Farmers in the State.
• Provides access to the resources of American Tree Farm System and provides educational opportunities and outreach—for example, in 2017 we will once again hold the Fall Forestry Seminar on the Columbia River in Vancouver.
• Partners with other organizations to promote sustainable forestry across Washington State.
Who are the people behind Washington Tree Farm Program?
WTFP only has one part-time staff, our Program Administrator, Elizabeth Ide. If you are a Certified Tree Farmer than you have had one of our 100+ volunteer inspectors come out and visit your Tree Farm to conduct an inspection. In addition to inspectors, we have several core volunteers that conduct our Tree Farmer recognition program, put out communications, and coordinate the state-wide requirements to remain a certified state.
If you belong to both WFFA and Washington Tree Farm Program, you hear much less from Washington State Tree Farm program because Tree Farm has significantly fewer staff and resources than WFFA. However, you should be getting regular emails from American Tree Farm System and you can follow us over on Facebook.
How does Washington Tree Farm Program work?
Washington Tree Farm Program does not charge dues. We receive about 25% of our funding from ATFA, our national umbrella organization, otherwise we depend on financial support from our members and local organizations to complete our work. We are a volunteer dependent organization having completed over 2500 hours of volunteer time in 2016.
Several years ago, Washington had the option of remaining a “Certified” State or becoming a “Recognition” state. We chose to remain a “Certified” State—this means we will go through regular external audits (we had one in 2015) by professional auditor such as Price, Waterhouse Cooper. In addition to being ready for this regular audit process, we also must pay a fee to keep our certification credentials beginning in 2018. This fee will be $7000 per year for the first three years and will be renegotiated after that.
We are a stand-alone organization with our own State Committee. We hold quarterly board meetings, usually in Olympia, that are open to anyone to attend. Washington Tree Farm Program doesn’t keep a regular office, but we are always available by contacting Elizabeth at (360) 602-1603, firstname.lastname@example.org or myself at (360) 515-1340 or email@example.com.
What does this mean for you as a tree farmer?
If you aren’t Certified, we would like for you to become part of the Washington Tree Farm Program. Give Elizabeth a call or email and we will work on getting you matched up with a volunteer inspector.
If you are a Certified Tree Farmer, please consider how you can help sustain Washington Tree Farm Program. Your volunteer time or a donation will go a long way to help us ensure that our program continues to provide Certification and Recognition for Washington Tree Farmers for years to come.