For Sarah Holmes, owner of Holmes Forestry, sustainable forestry is easy to define, “sustainable forestry is just good forestry.”
Her love for forestry began in college after taking an introductory forestry field class at the University of Maine at Orono. Since then, her career has taken her around the world from New Hampshire to West Africa, to her current position in Mississippi.
Beyond owning Holmes Forestry, Holmes is a Mississippi registered forester, a member of the Association of Consulting Foresters, and is a forestry technical service provider for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service.
Holmes’ mission is to give family forest owners the tools they need to manage their lands sustainably.
“I really like to meet new landowners and help them manage their forestland,” she said. “Many of these landowners, you get the chance to work with for many years and establish a strong bond and friendship.”
Part of helping landowners manage their land is education, which is critical to Holmes’ work. She noted that organizations, such as the Mississippi State Extension Service, have educational courses throughout the year. These courses help give landowners the up-to-date tools and information they need to sustainably manage their land.
Holmes also believes many of the family forest landowners want to be responsible stewards of their land.
“Of the family forests I have worked with, just about all the landowners want to manage their lands so their forest will be healthy for the trees and wildlife as well,” she said.
When implemented properly, sustainable forest management can not only lead to a source of income for these family forest owners but can also provide critical habitat to threatened species in Mississippi such as the Gopher Tortoise.
“A responsible, sustainable forester works for the best management for the forestland in the present and the future,” she said. “Sustainable forestry is wise and healthy management of forestland. It is something that many foresters have been doing for many years.”
If there was one thing Holmes wished everyone knew about sustainable forest management, it would be that it’s very healthy for the forest.
“A sustainable forester looks at the needs of the forest as a whole and works to manage the timber in a wise way for now and for the future,” she said. “Harvesting trees does not just benefit the mills or the landowners’ income. It also, many times, greatly benefits various wildlife species habitats including some critical habitats. It’s a ‘win-win’ situation.”