SFC Announces Planet Imagery Partnership

Southern Forestry Consultants is excited to announce that we are now a Planet Labs imagery reseller. Planet is a leading global provider of daily satellite imagery at multiple resolutions and temporal scales. SFC’s geospatial solutions division will provide Planet imagery to clients across the Southeastern U.S.

Planet’s imagery products are a game changer for efficient real time monitoring of land assets. Being a provider of Planet imagery is a strategic fit for SFC’s cloud-centric strategy for digitally enabled natural resource management via real time imagery within SFC’s managed web GIS solutions which allows all access to land data anywhere work is being done, whether the office, the truck or the woods. “We at Planet could not be more excited to have Southern Forestry Consultants signed on as a partner.” said John Atkinson, Global VP of Partnerships at Planet. “Their towering competence in forestry management, combined with Planet’s unique service, will deliver the best possible results to our joint customers.”

It can be a challenge for forestry and natural resources professionals to visit each and every ongoing management activity across geographically distributed land assets. Putting eyes on all operations is increasingly a challenge as organizations run lean due to tight labor markets. SFC’s web GIS customers can add Planet imagery directly to ArcGIS (Online or ArcGIS Pro) for real time visibility across all their lands and value added silvicultural activities. Operational benefits include reduced time on the road checking jobs and having to walk sites to see the precise extent of work completion. Land managers can quickly quantify a harvest’s extent, or acres for payment, using last week’s imagery right in ArcGIS Pro instead of walking a job’s edge with GPS. Since Planet’s imagery streams directly to ArcGIS, one can reduce time spent on labor intensive and slow imagery transactions involving shapefiles, email and large file management.

Reach out to us to learn more: sales@soforest.com
Learn more about Planet at their website : https://www.planet.com

SFC and WEA Present Landscape Management Plan to South Carolina Stakeholders


Wiregrass Ecological Associates (WEA) and Southern Forestry Consultants (SFC) staff were in Columbia, South Carolina last week  to present the South Carolina Landscape Management Plan (LMP) for stakeholder review. Stefan Bourgoin (Senior Scientist and Project Manager) and Austin Carroll (WEA President and SFC Partner) were on hand to present the draft LMP document and geodatabase they composed. The meeting was held at the South Carolina Forestry Commission (SCFC) headquarters in Lexington, SC. SCFC Forest Management Chief Russell Hubright and State Stewardship Coordinator Chisolm Beckham hosted the event and have been instrumental in development of the South Carolina LMP. The diverse group of attendees represented stakeholders from 40 various national and state organizations, including Audubon of South Carolina, the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation, South Carolina Forestry Commission, International Paper Company, Longleaf Alliance, National Wild Turkey Federation, and South Carolina Tree Farm Committee, among many others. South Carolina is one of multiple states for which SFC and WEA are currently developing LMPs including Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Georgia.

The LMP is a document produced through the American Forest Foundation (AFF) geared toward increasing landowner engagement in the American Tree Farm System (ATFS). Streamlining the process for landowners to meet with a forester and enroll their property in ATFS is essential in conserving, protecting, and harvesting timber land throughout South Carolina.  The LMP provides comprehensive details on various ecological and silvicultural topics (ecoregions, state forest types, landowner objectives, landscape objectives, conservation incentives, etc.) to give landowners options for managing their land within the ATFS guidelines.


Dooner Earns Audubon Florida’s Sustainable Forestry Award


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.

Link to Florida Audubon Site Announcement


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.

SFC and WEA Discuss Landscape Management Plans in the Southeast at Tennessee Forestry Association (TFA) Annual Meeting


The 2019 Tennessee Forestry Association (TFA) Annual Meeting was held this week in Knoxville, Tennessee.  TFA and the Tennessee Tree Farm Program asked Austin Carroll to speak on behalf of Southern Forestry Consultants (SFC) and Wiregrass Ecological Associates (WEA) regarding ongoing landscape management planning efforts in the Southeast and implications for the upcoming Tennessee plan. Mr. Carroll, a Registered Forester who led the development of the initial American Tree Farm System (ATFS) Landscape Management Plan (LMP), has led the creation of state-wide LMPs in Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida.   SFC and WEA will continue to lead the creation of these plans during 2020 in Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia.

LMPs are currently being developed and utilized in numerous states as a tool to help navigate one of the biggest barriers to landowner forest certification, the management plan itself. The SFC/WEA team are developing this innovative tool to meet standards for both ATFS and the Forest Stewardship Program.  Additionally, these LMPs are designed to strengthen the critical bond between a landowner and their natural resource professional, which research indicates leads to active forest management. Mr. Carroll presented on lessons learned during the development of LMPs throughout the Southeast and how those lessons will help in the development of Tennessee’s LMP.



The Tennessee Forestry Association (TFA) serves as “The Voice of Forestry” in Tennessee. TFA is a private, non-profit organization primarily funded through membership dues. It began more than 50 years ago under the name of “Keep Tennessee Green” and was organized to assist in reducing the tremendous toll taken by forest fires each year throughout the state. TFA continues to work with state and national government agencies to promote a better understanding and appreciation of the forests of Tennessee through a diversity of public relations, government, and educational programs.

Bark Beetles in the Aftermath of Hurricane Michael

The aftermath of Hurricane Michael left landowners and managers in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama scrambling in pursuit of an opportunity to salvage what was left of their investment. While all segments of the industry worked as close to full capacity as possible, the combined effort is estimated to have salvaged only 10-15% of the compromised material. As the dust settled following the salvage period, the battered forests of the region were dealt another blow in the form of an unseasonably hot and dry May that further stressed timber stands. The broken, leaning, scarred, and windblown trees were quickly infested with bark beetles, and, with a factory of sorts in which to reproduce, the beetles soon moved to adjacent, otherwise healthy trees suffering from a lack of rain.

The two most economically impactful beetle species in the US south are the Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) and the Ips engraver beetle (IPS). SPB outbreaks are rare and occur most often in unmanaged, overstocked stands and generally require harvesting to salvage whatever can be utilized before the beetles eradicate entire timber stands. Attacks from IPS beetles are more sporadic and may affect a handful of trees or portions of stands of timber. Rather than targeting overstocked stands, IPS beetles focus on specific individuals suffering from injuries like lightning strikes, windthrow, and root disturbance. The scattered leaning, broken, and otherwise compromised trees resulting from hurricane damage plays right into the hands of the IPS beetle. Across all age classes, all species of pines, and all regions within the path of Hurricane Michael, IPS beetle activity has increased.

Southern Forestry Consultants, Inc. (SFC) has been monitoring beetle activity continuously and while activity slowed with the onset of consistent summer rainfall, activity has increased recently with drier weather. Earlier in the year IPS beetles were found in downed trees, but they had not successfully attacked living, healthy trees. In the past few weeks IPS beetles have begun to attack trees that, at least from an outward appearance, do not appear to have been damaged by the storm. We encourage you to be vigilant in watching for yellowing or reddening needles in isolated trees or groups of trees. Additionally, our monitoring efforts from the air and ground will continue.

IPS beetles have successfully attacked 16 species of pine in the US including loblolly, slash, and longleaf pine. Under normal circumstances IPS beetles are unable to successfully attack most healthy trees as the sap in the vascular system of the tree is able to expel or trap the attacking beetle. However, during periods of drought, reduced sap flowing in the tree as a result of less available groundwater inhibits the tree’s ability to resist attacks.  Furthermore, an abundance of dying material following disasters like Hurricane Michael provide ideal breeding grounds for the IPS beetle to reproduce and multiply.  Our monitoring efforts have supported the idea that hurricane-stressed trees of all age classes, including timber stands as young as three years old, have suffered damages leading to IPS beetles infestations.

Most control options for IPS beetles require the application of pesticides, but even the available products produce minimal effectiveness due to the difficulty in obtaining adequate coverage.  This challenge, coupled with the cost of treatment, really preclude pesticide applications from consideration as a logical option, except in isolated cases.  The best way to minimize risk for a given stand of timber is to prevent disturbance of all kinds.  As we enter the fall season when many people enjoy recreational activities on properties, be diligent in avoiding disturbance to timber stands.  Injuries from mowing, harrowing, tree stand attachments, and more can all lead to stressful conditions that could be the impetus for an infestation.

At this time, we are asking everyone to keep a close eye on their timber. It is perfectly normal to lose an isolated tree during any given year and secondary beetle infestations are common once a tree begins to die. However, if you see a group of trees in close proximity begin to decline or die, this could be a primary beetle infestation which will require closer observation. Yellowing needles, pitch tubes, and reddish-brown sawdust between bark plates are all indications of active beetles.  Please stay vigilant in your observations throughout the summer and fall as the peak beetle populations often coincide with seasonally dry conditions during this time.  If you have concerns about an infestation, alert your SFC forester to discuss an evaluation and options.