November 16, 2005 | By: Aimee Nielson
VERSAILLES, Ky.

Kentucky forests greatly contribute to the state’s economy and provide a valuable source of income for all involved in the industry. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Forestry Department Chair Steve Bullard said there are significant threats to the forests and it takes people from many different factions to help minimize those threats. 

To that end, an informal conversation was held recently in Woodford County among forestry professionals, landowners, government officials, loggers and others with forest interests.

“I think the dialogue here is important; it’s to talk about sustainable forestry issues and not only to talk about them, but come to some agreement as to some solutions on the issues,” Bullard said. “There are some very important and significant threats to forests in Kentucky and we in the public sector, as well as those in the private sector, need to deliver solutions to those threats.” 

Bullard said that forests cover about half the land base in the commonwealth and provide countless ecosystem and economic services. 

The conversations took place at the urging of noted author and conservationist Wendell Berry of Henry County. Berry wanted to explore the many different factions that drive forestry in Kentucky, said Steve Moore, Henry County Cooperative Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources, who served as facilitator of the conversation. 

“A lot of Kentucky is forested and he (Berry) and many others see a lack of policy, a lack of congruency on landowner education, that we are not getting the message across,” Moore added. “This meeting was to get a real potpourri of people who will start the conversation and come to some agreement on some future policies in forestry. 

Moore said that there are many differences – some real polarized differences – in opinions. He said it’s important to recognize those differences and find common ground. 
After the first half of the meeting, Bullard said he was encouraged about the dialogue that was taking place.

“We’re seeing that we are on the same page – that forests provide significant value, both in terms of economy and socially – and those values are under very significant threats,” he said. 

Bullard said those threats include the presence of invasive species, fragmentation of ownership, compartmentalization, increasing wildlands, and a move to an urban interface with more houses being built in the forest land. In addition, more of the capital in forestry investments is being moved elsewhere in the world. Each of these unique threats need unique solutions, he said. 

“We want to not only talk about some things but come up with actions; maybe some policy alternatives that can create better encouragement and incentives for landowners to have ways to monetize ecosystem services and protect the value of the forests,” Bullard said. “There are things we can do at the university to help our industries in terms of nontraditional and traditional industries in the globally competitive market place. There are some financial solutions or investment funds that are monetizing ecosystem services. This meeting shows we are working together to deliver services.”

The meeting was sponsored by Brown Forman and held at the Labrot & Graham Distillery.

Contact: 

Writer: Aimee Nielson 859-257-4736, ext. 267

Contact: Steve Bullard 859-257-7596