FORSYTH, Georgia – The Georgia Forestry Foundation (GFF), with partner Georgia Audubon, will host a Working Forests for Birding Field Day on September 23-24, 2022, in Hawkinsville, GA. The one-and-a-half-day event will connect working forest landowners and birders to demonstrate how land management for bird habitat benefits both groups.
Privately-owned working forests cover over 90 percent of Georgia, providing 22 million acres of forested landscape that support the state’s bird population. Although they are some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems for forest-dependent species, opportunities to access these privately-owned lands have been limited for the birding community. Through a partnership with Georgia Audubon, GFF created a Bird Lease Agreement Program, which will be launched at the September field day event. The program seeks to increase access to a variety of bird species for birding enthusiasts while providing an additional, optional income stream for forest landowners.
“Working forests are crucial to wildlife habitat protection in Georgia. Georgia is the sixth most biodiverse state and the number one forestry state in the nation. That is not a coincidence,” said Vice President Nick DiLuzio. “Native and migratory bird populations thrive in Georgia’s privately-owned working forests which make up nearly two-thirds of the land area in the state and 91 percent of the total forested acres. We are excited that this event will provide opportunities for birders while helping conserve privately-owned forests.”
The field day will take place at Bembry’s Mill Tree Farm, owned by Dr. Johnny Bembry. Dr. Bembry is a forest landowner and member of the Georgia Forestry Association who has dedicated himself to sustainable forestry. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in several birding activities led by Georgia Audubon experts. Additionally, a property tour led by forest management experts will show different forestland habitat types and how they benefit various bird species. The day will conclude with a catered lunch and presentations, including the launch of the birding lease program.
“We are very excited about our partnership with the Georgia Forestry Foundation and their new birding lease program,” said Adam Betuel, Director of Conservation at Georgia Audubon. “With so much of the lands in Georgia being privately owned, the birding lease program provides new opportunities for Georgia’s birdwatchers, a novel revenue stream for private landowners and producers, as well as a vital connection point for these communities. With the growing popularity of the birdwatching hobby, the essential roles our private lands play for both the economy and our ecosystems, and the conservation challenges our birds face, innovative programs like this must be part of Georgia’s successful future.”
Visit gffgrow.org/birding for details and to register for the event. GFF will be engaging a diverse group of organizations to support the event. To learn more about this partnership and how you can support this initiative, please email Vice President Nick DiLuzio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Georgia Forestry Foundation (GFF), established in 1990, is a 501(c)3 organization that acts as the educational arm of the Georgia Forestry Association. GFF seeks to educate and engage Georgians with the story of working forests and capitalize on our most important opportunities to capture carbon, filter water, provide wildlife habitat, create jobs and build sustainable communities. For more information, visit www.gffgrow.org