Nationally, the American Tree Farm System® (ATFS), is a program of the American Forest Foundation, committed to sustaining forests, watersheds, and healthy habitats through the power of private stewardship.
Since 1941, ATFS has educated and recognized the commitment of private forest owners in the United States. Currently, ATFS has 33 million acres of privately owned forestland and 51,000 family forest owners who are committed to excellence in forest stewardship in 46 states. In Pennsylvania, there are currently 980 Tree Farmers with more than 260,000 acres certified in the program.
Tree Farmers share a unique commitment to protecting wildlife habitats and watersheds, conserving soil, and providing recreation for their communities while producing wood for America and the world. These individuals hold the key to the kinds of forests, forest activities and forest resources future generations of Americans will enjoy.
Each Tree Farm meets established standards and guidelines to become a certified Tree Farm. Under these standards and guidelines, private forest landowners must have a management plan developed for their wood lot and must verify that they are implementing that plan when visited by an ATFS-certified volunteer tree farm inspector on a five-year cycle.
Water. Wildlife. Recreation. Wood. The four sides of the green and white Tree Farm sign tell the story of sustainable forestry … a thriving forestland that has clean water, a healthy wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.
Who is eligible for Pennsylvania Tree Farm/ATFS recognition?
There are a number of things to consider when determining whether a forest landowner is eligible for the American Tree Farm recognition. First, PA Tree Farm properties that contain 10-10,000 contiguous acres of forestland. Forest owners may choose to focus on a portion of their entire ownership but may not exempt a portion of a contiguous forest management unit. PA Tree Farm is operated and maintained by the Pennsylvania Forestry Association.
Second, certified Tree Farms can be either privately or publicly, except on state land, owned. Private properties must be non-industrial but may be associated with small businesses as long as they are not publicly traded. Public land can be associated with local government, schools, parks, etc.
Third, certified Tree Farms must be managed in conformance with the American Tree Farm System's Standards of Sustainability (American Tree Farm System's Standards of Sustainability). Owners must clearly exhibit a commitment to practicing sustainable forest management through their objectives outlined in a management plan.
All Tree Farms must have a written and implemented forest management plan that specifically mentions the following topics; forest health, soil, water, wood and fiber production, threatened and endangered species, special sites, invasive species, and forests of recognized importance.
Lastly, Pennsylvania Tree Farmers must pay an annual membership fee, outlined below. The fee is based on the total aggregate acreage of the Tree Farmer in the program. The fee is due annually regardless of Tree Farmer status, Pioneer or Certified.
- 10-50 acres = $70/year
- 51-100 acres = $80/year
- 101-500 acres = $90/year
- 501 and greater = $100/year
Benefits of Belonging
Numerous benefits are associated with membership in the Tree Farm Program.
- The greatest benefit to landowners is representation at the state and national level by the Pennsylvania Forestry Association and the American Forest Foundation respectively.
- Opportunity to meet and discuss forest management objectives with a certified professional forester for free on a periodic basis.
- Professionally certified sustainable forest meeting the Tree Farm Standard.
- Membership in the Pennsylvania Forestry Association, our sponsoring organization, with a subscription to Pennsylvania Forests magazine and Tree Farm updates in their e-newsletter.
- Free subscription to Penn State's Forest Leaves newsletter, a publication for private forest landowners
- Information and updates on national and state legislative issues affecting forest landowners
- Opportunity to attend the American Tree Farm System National Leadership Conference
- Participation in the National Tree Farmer of the Year contest
- Right to display Tree Farm sign and certificate for framing
How do I get started?
If you would like to determine if your property qualifies as a Tree Farm or if you would just like more information you can contact any member of the Tree Farm Committee (see contact page) or our administrator at the Pennsylvania Forestry Association 1-800-835-8065. If you meet the eligibility guidelines, a free visit with a certified inspecting forester can be arranged.