Michael Dooner, founder and President of Southern Forestry Consultants (SFC), was recognized by Audubon Florida with the 2019 Sustainable Forestry Award at the Florida Forestry Association (FFA)’s Annual Meeting in Miramar Beach, Florida. Audubon Florida’s Sustainable Forestry Award is presented annually to a forester, forestry family, or forest business that demonstrates improvements in bird and wildlife habitats and water resources through forest management practices. Audubon recognized Mr. Dooner for his efforts to revitalize timber operations in the Florida Panhandle following Hurricane Michael. In 2018, Hurricane Michael made a catastrophic negative impact on many rural communities that depend directly on a sustainable forestry industry in the Florida Panhandle. His commitment to lead the restoration of working forests in Florida has been essential to the economic and ecological benefits these forests provide.
“Thank you, Michael,” Audubon’s Director of Policy Beth Alvi said during the award presentation, “for helping see the Panhandle through this challenging time, and for protecting the region’s forest way of life and its economy.”
While assessing and salvaging personal holdings and those of his clients, Mr. Dooner simultaneously worked tirelessly with agency personnel to improve recovery efforts, connect forest landowners with essential resources, and advocate for federal disaster relief for the industry. His efforts to expedite recovery of the forested regions of the Panhandle are essential in protecting the ecosystem services, watershed security, and wildlife habitat that are the foundation of the ecology of the area. Mr. Dooner was also one of the first representatives of the industry to reach across the table and promote partnerships with organizations like Audubon Florida. He understands that a healthy forest industry promotes working forests which, in turn, provide habitat for plants and animals that many other organizations are also working to protect.
“Michael Dooner is a great example of what forestry is all about,” said FFA Executive Vice President Alan Shelby. “He remains focused on moving forestry forward, especially in the tough times. Michael is a forward thinker and understands the connection between forestry and the environment and economy.”
A graduate of the University of Florida with over 40 years of experience, Mr. Dooner is the immediate Past-President of the Florida Forestry Association, member of the Society of American Foresters (SAF), and a Florida Farm Bureau State Director. Mr. Dooner’s commitment to conservation and sustainability is reflected in the professional approach taken throughout SFC. In 2015, Michael led SFC through the creation of its environmental and ecological subsidiary, Wiregrass Ecological Associates (WEA), to strengthen and expand the level of expertise and services provided to the natural resource industry. This expansion and the continued management of hundreds of thousands of acres of working forests in the Southeast, demonstrate the conservation-minded approach to forestry Mr. Dooner has worked to instill in his company and the entire industry.
Audubon (www.fl.audubon.org) is Florida’s most influential conservation organization and promotes stewardship and appreciation of the natural beauty of Florida’s land and water resources. Audubon’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.
The Florida Forestry Association (www.floridaforest.org) is a statewide trade membership association representing all facets of the forest industry. The Association’s mission is to promote the responsible and sustainable use of Florida’s forest resources.