Athens, Ga. – In response to the dramatic alteration of Georgia’s forest and landscape caused by large transfers of ownership from traditional forest service product companies to conservation organizations, pension funds and not for profit foundations, the Center for Forest Business and Timber Mart-South, both forest industry cooperative organizations housed at the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, helped sponsor the International Quality and Productivity Center’s “Timberland Investing: Summit” in New York during April.
Georgia has undergone the largest transfer of land ownership over the past two years than at any other time in its history. While the visible transfers have occurred in metropolitan areas with strip malls replacing trees, the majority of the transfers have occurred in the rural forestlands that cover seventy-five percent of the state. Huge tracts of privately owned forestland, sometimes in the millions of acres, have been sold recently by the traditional forest product companies, such as Weyerhaeuser, International Paper and Temple-Inland.
Jon P. Caulfield, Warnell School adjunct professor and director of research at Regions Morgan Keegan Timberland Group, chaired the international conference on timberland investing. The conference targeted chief investment officers of pension funds, insurance companies, charitable trusts and private investment organizations as well as asset management firms.
Keynote speakers included Mike Clutter and Brooks Mendel, both faculty members in Forest Business at the Warnell School, and the event was attended by three Warnell School forest business graduate students, Hugh Lentile, Matt Camp and Ryan Mattei, who went to the conference to promote CFB’s Timberland Investment Conference to be held in 2007.
“This conference is a marvelous opportunity for our graduate students to meet the practitioners and see the many sides of timberland investment as an asset class,” explained Bob Izlar, Director of the Center for Forest Business.
Celebrating its Centennial anniversary, the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia provides five degree path programs in forestry and natural resource science and management. These include the forestry, wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture, water and soil resources and the new natural resource recreation and tourism programs. With more than fifty faculty and 23,000 acres of teaching lands, the Warnell School is the oldest, and one of the most respected, forestry and natural resource education providers in the United States. The school also houses one of the largest study abroad programs in the nation to provide global learning opportunities for its students. For more information, visit the Warnell School website at www.warnell.uga.edu.