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Economic Development

June 26 - Georgia’s Chatham County Commission unanimously passes Resolution protecting Georgia’s Forests

Savannah Business Journal Staff Report

June 26, 2017 - The Chatham County Commission unanimously passed what is thought to be a first-in-the-nation resolution to promote local climate protection and protect standing forests at their Friday, June 23 meeting.

The resolution bans the use of taxpayer funds to subsidize the industrial wood pellet industry. It passed with bipartisan support with Commissioners stepping up to provide leadership on both protecting taxpayers from wasteful subsidies and addressing climate change.

Commissioner James Holmes in bringing the resolution forward said, “Forests are one of our best defenses against natural disasters. We’ve seen the damage that Hurricane Matthew brought to our area. No matter what storm threatens our coast, allowing forests to remain standing is a cost-effective investment in resilience and protection. We certainly shouldn’t be using taxpayer dollars to encourage their destruction.”

Holmes previously joined other regional and national leaders in urging the European Commission to recognize the crucial role of standing forests in reducing the impact of natural disasters. The European Union currently subsidizes the wood pellet industry as part of their renewable energy plan. This short-term cut and run industry is dependent on foreign subsidies and policies that are currently being revised as more scientific evidence reveals the damaging climate impacts associated with the forest destruction by the wood pellet industry in the Southern US, and the intrinsic value of leaving forests standing.

Noting the expansion of the wood pellet industry across the state and its potential impact on the environment, economy, and quality of life of Chatham residents, the resolution also calls for state legislation that would ban state incentives for industrial-scale production or incineration of wood pellets.

Chatham and Savannah political leaders and business owners have increasingly taken a leadership stance in preparing for the impacts of climate change. The city was an early signatory to the Compact of Mayors, and has demonstrated its commitment to sustainable local climate action with the formation of a city sustainability department. That department, headed by Nick Defley, has been working to develop a comprehensive sustainability plan in keeping with the city’s commitment to the compact.

Dogwood Alliance’s Georgia State Coordinator, Vicki Weeks, who has been building support for the resolution said, “This vote highlights the vision of our Chatham County Commissioners. With this vote they are recognizing the environmental and economic value of standing forests. The Stand4Forests movement is calling for a new vision of forest protection here in Georgia, a vision that doesn’t include false solutions like industrial biomass. When left standing, forests provide billions in economic value to our state and local communities. We applaud our commissioners for taking this important step.”

Weeks recently accepted the position of Georgia State Coordinator for the Dogwood Alliance. She will  highlight the leadership shown by Chatham County in passing this resolution in a statewide campaign to pass similar resolutions in Georgia counties most at risk of being targeted as a source destination by the industry. For more information or to get involved in the “Stand for Forests GA” campaign, visit the website: or contact Weeks at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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