The majority of forestlands in the southern US are privately owned (86%) and two-thirds of these forests are owned by families and individuals.
The American Tree Farm System (ATFS), administered by the American Forest Foundation, was established over 75 years ago to provide support and recognition to these non-corporate landowners who play a key role in forest sustainability.
Today, the 74,000 tree farmers across the US manage approximately 20.5 million acres of forestland.
The programme has evolved into an internationally recognised, third party-verified certification standard endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) standards.
The ATFS now provides a means by which family tree farmers can be recognised and rewarded in the marketplace for meeting rigorous sustainability standards analogous to large corporate owners certified to Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard.