Our world is a complex matrix of laws, rules, regulations and guidelines. It is the responsibility of all parties involved in land management to comply to the best of their ability with relevant guidelines. The following is a list of those that might apply to an Alabama landowner. The list addresses those that directly affect land management and exclude business and tax implications regulations that affect all individuals. A good resource for timberland tax issues is www.timbertax.org. A resource for business compliance with federal requirements is the Small Business Resource Guide.
Regulations and Guidelines
The Endangered Species Act is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW). The law prohibits the "taking" of endanger species. To take is defined as “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect or attempt to engage in any such conduct”. For forest landowners a major concern is "incidental taking" by alteration of endangered species habitat. The USFW has several tools they can use to help landowners to deal with the presence of endangered species on their property.
The Clean Water Act is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. However most aspects of the Clean Water Act are implemented and enforced by state agencies like the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
Best Management Practices are a number of practices that when implemented reduce the amount of pollution from forestry activities. The practices are voluntary but are encouraged through education and monitoring of BMP implementation. Alabama has a implementation rate of over 90% thanks to the diligence of foresters, loggers, contractors, and landowners.
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act regulates dredging and filling in Waters of the US which extends to wetlands. While forestry activities are exempt from Section 404, BMP compliance in forestry activities in and near wetlands is especially important.
Alabama mandates registration of foresters that offer to practice or practice forestry. Registration requires a forestry education, an exam, maintenance of continuing profession education and acceptance of a code of ethics. Forester registration is supervised by Alabama State Board of Registration for Foresters.
Silvicultural operations often require the application of chemical for weed and pest control. Restricted use pesticides must be applied by a licensed applicator.
The Prescribed Burn Certification helps reduce the liability of those engaged in the use of prescribed fire in forest management. The program provides education for participants and establishes a set of guidelines for prescribed fire management.
Contracts are one important method maintaining compliance in many types of business transactions.
Certification has become increasingly important in all aspects of the forest industry. Even though certification is voluntary, maintaining certifications is important for independent verification that the organization follows guidelines. Those guidelines often contain items similar to those covered in the Stewardship Principles. A comparison of global certification programs is posted on the Forest Certification Resource Center. Certification programs in the United States include: