MSU natural resource economist tapped for national study


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Posted: 12/5/2005


A Mississippi State forestry professor is among four recently chosen by independent forest certifiers to implement a test assessment of the U.S. Forest Service's sustainable forestry practices.

Steve Grado and his professional colleagues will be making the first independent appraisal of USFS lands since their establishment in 1897. Initially, the team will focus on Pennsylvania's Allegheny National Forest.

A member of the MSU faculty since 1995, Grado is an authority in natural resource economics and multi-use management.

National forests are managed for multiple uses, including timber production, mining, livestock grazing, outdoor recreation, and fish and wildlife habitat protection.

The USFS began the assessment in November with both the Allegheny and Oregon's Fremont National Forest. The studies will address such issues as replanting, erosion control, wildlife habitat, Native American site protection, and economic considerations, among others.

The process the four Allegheny team members will use is based on the Sustainable Forestry Initiative objectives and performance guidelines developed by the American Forest and Paper Association and standards developed by the Forest Stewardship Council, an international group based in Germany. Both organizations promote the certification of private and industrial lands as well as public lands to determine if they are practicing environmentally friendly forestry.

Financial support for the project is provided by the Washington, D.C.-based Pinchot Institute for Conservation.

Grado is familiar with the Allegheny Forest. A master's and doctoral degree graduate of Pennsylvania State University, he will be representing SmartWood, a program of the Rainforest Alliance that certifies under standards developed by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Grado's assessment team colleagues include Don Taylor, representing the Sustainable Forestry Initiative; Dave DeCalestra, a certified wildlife biologist; and Chris Nowak, a State University of New York-Syracuse forestry professor. DeCalestra and Nowak also represent SmartWood.

The test assessment of the national forests is not the sole objective of the case study. Results will be used to evaluate the consistency of forest certification with the federal agency's mission to conserve and manage federal public lands.

To date, approximately 45 million acres of United States forestland have been certified under the forestry initiative's performance guidelines and 15 million acres by stewardship council standards. While not mandatory, the certification process publicly verifies that forest management practices are environmentally friendly, socially favorable and economically feasible.

The Allegheny assessment will take approximately one year to complete and involves input from the numerous constituencies within and in areas surrounding the approximately half-million acre Northwest Pennsylvania forest.

For additional information, contact Dr. Grado at (662) 325-2792 or