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Aitkin County SWCD
Forest Stewardship Council®
Certified Group

In 2005, the Aitkin County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) joined a project to increase forest certification opportunities for private woodland owners in North Central Minnesota. The potential benefits of participating are increased assurance that forest management is compatible with widely recognized measures of responsible forestry, the potential for unique marketing opportunities, and access to more information and expertise about forest stewardship.FSC Certification photo #1

As part of this project, the SWCD established a “group certification” program for interested Aitkin County woodland owners. By participating in a group certification program, landowners are able to have their forests certified at a lower cost than if they were to become certified individually. Landowners who volunteer to participate will need to follow their Stewardship Plan and make their property available if it is selected as one of the sites to be visited during the certification assessment.

Landowners with at least 10 acres of forestland in Aitkin County are eligible for the program. To qualify for certification landowners should have a forest stewardship plan. The SWCD can develop this plan and help landowners identify management activities that will meet their goals for wildlife, recreation, water quality, forestry, and other objectives.

Certification is entirely voluntary and landowners often have many different reasons for choosing to participate. Some landowners are interested in the marketing benefits, some landowners want to improve their management for wildlife and other objectives, and some landowners like the extra assistance from the forester in implementing their management plan.

The first group of landowners to be certified through the SWCD project included a dozen properties and approximately 1,500 acres of forestland. The group now consists of 17 landowners with almost 4,500 acres.

FSC Certification photo #2The project has been supported by funding from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resource Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources, a Conservation Innovation Grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service-USDA, and the USFS. 

If you own woodland property in Aitkin County and would like to know more, contact Dennis Thompson at (218) 927-6565.