Oak Ridge research forest recognized for sustainability practices

Presentation of American Tree Farm Sign to FRREC

​On Sept. 22 the UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center's Oak Ridge Forest was recognized with certification from the American Tree Farm System. On hand to present the signage was Tennessee Division of Forestry area forester Darren Bailey (shown left). Accepting the sign were Kevin Hoyt, Forest Resources Center director (second from left) and Richard Evans, retired center director. Thomas Kain (right) area procurement forester with Domtar Paper Company, represented the American Tree Farm System. 


OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – On the first day of autumn, before a crowd of forest land owners from across the state, the University of Tennessee Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center — which includes the UT Arboretum in Oak Ridge — was recertified as a member of the American Tree Farm System. The announcement came during the center’s Woods and Wildlife Field Day on Sept. 22.

Certification with the American Tree Farm System means that the UT Forest Resources Center adheres to eight stringent standards of sustainability and best management practices for forestry production and harvesting, including following detailed forest management plans that meet or exceed requirements to preserve and protect soil, air and water quality; fish and wildlife biodiversity; and forest aesthetics. According to the American Tree Farm System, certification assures consumers that products they purchase originate from sustainably managed forests that protect economic, social and environmental benefits.

To qualify for recertification, the center revised its previous management plan to meet the new tree farm certification standards and then went through a required external audit and review of its processes.  In accordance with American Tree Farm System guidelines, the review was conducted by an independent third party, in this case, foresters with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry.

Dr. Kevin Hoyt, director of the UT AgResearch Forest Resources Center, was pleased with the recognition and quick to recognize the efforts of the staff and the center’s previous director, Richard Evans, who has retired from the University after nearly 40 years of service to the Oak Ridge-based facility.  “During Richard’s tenure, the center was recognized as a certified tree farm, and I am pleased and proud that the center is once again a member of this well known and highly respected forest landowner organization,” he said. “I can’t wait to post the official signs once again designating us as a member in the American Tree Farm System.”

Hoyt will post signs at the center’s Anderson County location. Future plans are for the center’s two additional forests located in Scott and Morgan counties (the Cumberland Forest) and Franklin County (the Highland Rim Forest) to each undergo separate audits to receive certification.

“It’s important that the public, family forest landowners and the forest industry in Tennessee recognize that the forestry practices of UT AgResearch meet stringent and measureable sustainability standards,” Hoyt said.

Darren Bailey, TDF area forester for Anderson County, oversaw the recertification process for the Oak Ridge Forest and was pleased to present the official signage to Hoyt. Bailey commented that based on the review of the Forest Resources Research and Education Center’s practices, the center should have no difficulty maintaining the certification. 

UT’s Oak Ridge Forest location is designated for forestry and environmental research and therefore distinct from the UT Arboretum, which is designed for public use. The public is always welcome to enjoy the arboretum’s nearly seven miles of walking trails, which are ideal for strolling through the woods and spotting wildlife. The arboretum is located on South Illinois Avenue in Oak Ridge. For trail descriptions and directions see http://forestry.tennessee.edu/trailsystem.htm.  Please note, for the safety of visitors and wildlife, picnicking and pets are not allowed.

The Forest Resource AgResearch and Education Center is one of 10 research facilities operated by the UT Institute of Agriculture. In addition to its agricultural research programs, UTIA also provides instruction, research and public service through the UT College of Veterinary Medicine and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.

Dr. Kevin Hoyt, director, UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center, 865-483-3571, khoyt@utk.edu

More information about the American Tree Farm System can be found online: