VFA Position Statements

VFA's position statements are important components of our advocacy and outreach efforts. They serve as a foundation to guide our actions on particular issues and act as a catalyst to further dialogue and engagement with members, policymakers, and partner organizations. 

The following sections detail positions on several issues that VFA feels are important to forestry and the forest products industry in the Commonwealth of Virginia. These positions were developed after considerable thought and deliberation by the Board and input from our general membership and key forestry stakeholders.

VFA regularly monitors and reviews the impact of public policies on Virginia's forestry community and will develop new or revised positions as circumstances warrant. For more information on VFA's position statements, please contact VFA Executive Director Corey Connors by email at [email protected]

Use the links below to jump to each VFA Position Statement:

Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Sustainable Forests and Water Quality

VFA recognizes the importance of fostering health and productive forests through the development and implementation of best forest management practices to maintain sustainable forests and supporting water quality goals.  VFA supports non-regulatory best management practices and cost share assistance to landowners to encourage forest management practices to continue timber production while achieving water quality goals.  VFA supports sound, evidence based, cost-effective best management practices that protect water quality while allowing the continued management and harvest of forest products.

Last Updated: December 11, 2020


Eminent Domain/Property Rights

VFA supports the right of private landowners to own and manage land for both economic and individual satisfaction. The right to own land is guaranteed under the Constitution. Further, government is prohibited from taking private property without due compensation. Although government has the authority to regulate certain actions on private property, regulations or legislation that diminishes the owner’s economic use of their property constitute, to some degree, a taking of that land. Thus, government should provide due process and compensation for that taking. VFA supports the position that landowners should be compensated for the value of their land and the timber resources on the land using both current and future values.

Further, VFA supports the right of private landowners to control the use of their property. Government should provide adequate protection for landowners from public trespass, including protection from all liability for unauthorized use of their land.

Last Updated: December 11, 2020


Endangered Species

VFA understands the overall intent of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to protect critically imperiled species from extinction. As part of an organization guided by a conservation philosophy, we strive to enhance and perpetuate Virginia’s forest resource through sustainable management that ultimately provides high quality habitat for game and nongame wildlife species.

ESA listings and related regulations can have a negative economic impact, particularly on private property owners and forestry-based industries. Given the importance of these listing decisions, high-quality, scientific information is critical in order to make well informed decisions. VFA supports using sound scientific research to evaluate species for possible listing as endangered or threatened under the ESA.

When sound scientific research identifies species of concern, at-risk species, or species that may need formal listing, conservation efforts can be critical to species recovery. VFA supports encouraging private land conservation through voluntary, incentive-based approaches. Landowners participating in these programs should be provided regulatory assurances that limit their obligations under the ESA or other regulatory programs. Market based approaches, such as private species conservation banks, are also opportunities to support recovery. Virginia’s private landowners are the key to species recovery and conserving the state’s natural heritage.

Last Updated: December 11, 2020


Estate Tax

VFA opposes reinstatement of the Virginia state estate tax. Virginia family foresters take stewardship of Virginia’s forest resource seriously. A state-level estate tax will have damaging financial and ecological implications that far outweigh the modest revenues that Virginia might generate from small, family forest owners at generational transfer.

While the natural perils of invasives, pests, disease, drought, and wildfire continue to threaten forests, the larger existential threat to Virginia’s forest land is the continued encroachment of man-made development. A state-level estate tax will further exacerbate this threat. A Virginia state estate tax will force families across the Commonwealth to either harvest timber prematurely, or sell off parcels of land to pay the tax bill. The resulting loss of forest land to development will negatively impact water quality, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, and rural economies that are supported by forestry.

Last Updated: December 11, 2020


Forest Health

VFA strongly supports the prompt control of all native and non-native invasive pests and plants. These pests and plants cause millions of dollars’ worth of damage annually not only to Virginia forests and woodlands but forests across the nation. Pests such as southern pine beetle and emerald ash borer and plants such as Chinese tallow, kudzu and cogon grass threaten millions of acres of forests and native ecosystems. Once established these pests and plants can decrease forest productivity resulting in lost revenue, recreational value and native habitat for a variety of game and non-game species.

There are many proven methods for controlling and minimizing the impact and spread of these invasive species. A fundamental method is implementing sound forest management strategies such as prescribed burning, thinning and in some cases chemical treatments including both herbicides and insecticides. When forests are left unmanaged, the chance for either native or non-native invasive species attacking or establishing increase dramatically.

VFA encourages all forest and woodland owners to actively manage their forests and woodlands to maintain healthy and vibrant forested ecosystems. VFA also strongly supports the continuation and development of research for both biological and chemical control agents for controlling native and non-native invasive pests and plants.

Last Updated: December 11, 2020


Green Building

VFA supports green building efforts that promote energy efficiency and environmental conservation and affirms that use of wood products from responsibly managed forests should be rewarded in green building due to their substantial environmental benefits. VFA believes that the bias against wood products in some green building rating systems and standards should be eliminated by applying the same criteria to wood products versus other extracted materials and rewarding the use of wood products from responsibly managed forests.

Additionally, VFA supports recognition of all credible forest certification standards in green building rating systems and standards. Only a small percentage of forest lands (10%) are certified to any standard. A major benefit of recognizing multiple certification standards is the increase in demand for certified forests and sustainable sources of wood products.

Another important factor is that a high percentage of certified forests in North America (75%) are certified to standards not currently recognized in some green building rating systems and standards. Recognizing these and all credible forest certification standards would encourage builders to purchase products domestically.

Many Green Building Councils around the world and several green building rating systems in the United States support the use of wood in green building and recognize multiple certification standards. Additionally, many government officials as well as conservation groups, researchers, and other concerned parties encourage this support and recognition.

Last Updated: June 15, 2012


Harvesting Practices

VFA believes that harvesting and the cultivation of forest crops is critical to sustainable, healthy forests. Harvesting timber includes a method commonly known as clearcutting, which serves as a very effective and efficient way of harvesting timber and preparing a site for regeneration. Almost all of the commercial species of timber in the state require full sunlight for optimum growth. The complete removal of a stand allows full sunlight to reach the forest floor and stimulate new growth. Properly completed, this method of harvest does not cause significant soil erosion or sedimentation.

Last Updated: December 11, 2020


Land Use

VFA recognizes the vital importance of the forest and farm lands of Virginia in maintaining environmental quality, providing for a vibrant economy, and promoting human health for all our citizens of the Commonwealth. The Association also recognizes the need for public policies and legislative acts that will promote the maintenance and expansion of the land base devoted to forests, farms, and other uses of lower intensity.

We believe state and local tax policies are an important tool in expressing public policy desires and that land use assessment of forest and farm lands, as opposed to the standard ad valorem assessment method, serves to help maintain and expand these lands by:

1. Reducing the incentive for landowners to sell or convert their lands.
2. Reducing the potential for these lands to be converted to other, more intensive and potentially less environmentally valuable uses.
3. Taxing these properties at a rate commensurate to the services provided by the county or municipality.

Because of the many benefits provided by land use valuation, the Virginia Forestry Association supports all counties and municipalities in the Commonwealth adopting land use valuation and taxation for forest and farm land under the auspices of the Virginia Land Use Assessment Law.

Last Updated: April 30, 2019


Markets for Wood and Fiber in Virginia

VFA represents diverse forestry-related groups and believes that a broad range of robust markets for Virginia wood and fiber are in the best interests of forest health and sustainability, the economic prosperity of the state, and the welfare of all citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

VFA acknowledges that the state has a role to play in supporting research and development related to emerging and existing industries, including wood and fiber businesses. However, the Association supports letting the free market determine the ultimate establishment and success of all new businesses.

The Association believes that government policies and incentives to stimulate economic development should not result in a significant and demonstrable adverse impact on existing businesses and the sustainability of forest resources.

Last Updated: December 4, 2017


National Forests

VFA believes that environmental protection and ecological restoration of the national forests can go hand in hand with economic opportunity and improved rural employment. National Forests are extraordinarily valuable both ecologically and economically. They provide public benefits that include ecological infrastructure, an economic foundation for rural communities, and recreational and educational opportunities for people throughout the world.

Active management of Virginia’s National Forests support adequate funding, community involvement, volunteerism, and public participation in planning so that the forests are managed towards accomplishing important social, environmental, and economic objectives. This includes sustainable timber harvesting. When planned and supervised by professional foresters and other resource specialists, sustainable timber harvesting is a crucial tool in enhancing forest resiliency. Additionally, we believe that timber harvesting can be conducted in a manner that supports and protects other valuable resources, including water quality and wildlife habitat.

The VFA, like many other organizations that are committed to sound scientific management of our national forests, supports the appropriate use of both commercial and non-commercial timber harvesting on the national forests because we believe it is a crucial tool for improving forest health and resiliency, improving rural economic livelihoods, and protecting and enhancing other important forest resources, including the restoration of ecological communities such as the American chestnut forest, remove invasive species, and produce suitable habitat for important pollinators, game species, and song birds.

Last Updated: December 11, 2020


Paper Bag Taxes

VFA opposes the implementation of taxes on the use of paper bags, which are renewable, recyclable, reusable and compostable.  Paper bags are ideal containers to use for composting residential yard and food waste; they are compostable themselves.  Government imposed product taxes increase costs for consumers and can create distortions in the free flow of recoverable commodities.  Imposing a tax on paper products discourages consumers from using products that are recyclable, compostable, made of recycled material, and reusable.  Taxes and fees on bags are regressive — increasing the cost of basic necessities and disproportionately impacting low income and working families, the elderly, people with disabilities, and those who use public transit.

Last Updated: December 11, 2020


Pesticide/Herbicide Application

Pesticides serve as an important tool for forest management. When using pesticides, applicators should comply fully with all state and federal regulations and should take care to protect water quality and wildlife resources from inadvertent exposure to pesticides. VFA supports the safe use and application of pesticides in conjunction with evidence based, scientific best management practices that continue sustainable forest management.

Herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides are essential for effective and economical reforestation in Virginia. VFA supports their use when applied according to the label and in compliance with non-regulatory Best Management Practices for forestry management.

Last Updated: December 11, 2020


Prescribed Burning and Smoke Management

VFA supports the continued use of fire as a forest management tool. Used properly, fire is an extremely cost-effective and environmentally sound practice. The proper application of fire is essential for hazardous fuels reduction, site preparation efforts for forest and rangeland regeneration, maintaining and improving wildlife habitat, and the control of insects, diseases, and unwanted or invasive plant species.  Many native plant and animal species are dependent on an ecosystem that includes fire. The resulting smoke from prescribed burning can be managed with a minimum of adverse impacts. VFA urges its members to comply with the existing voluntary smoke management guidelines. These guidelines are adequate to manage smoke from forest management operations and to protect the public.

Last Updated: December 11, 2020


Reforestation of Timberlands (RT) Program

The Reforestation of Timberlands (RT) program was created to ensure the viability of Virginia’s pine resource. Cost share incentives were made available through the program to private landowners to plant open or harvested lands. Funding is provided through a tax on forest industry companies, matched from the General Fund by the Virginia General Assembly on an annual basis.

VFA believes that our Commonwealth’s forest resource challenges need to be treated with the same urgency as other key economic development priorities. It is vital to grow and retain existing economic drivers, and VFA believes that reforestation needs to be prioritized in the same manner as other economic development endeavors.

VFA supports continued full appropriations to the RT Program, including a 100% General Fund match of the forest products industry’s contribution based on the previous year’s tax collection.

Last Updated: December 11, 2020


Timber Theft

VFA supports state law that allows for the prosecution of the few “bad actor” timber buyers who take advantage of unassuming forest landowners, timber buyers and the industry as a whole. The vast majority of timber sale transactions in Virginia prove to be good business for timber buyers and woodland owners. However, there is difficulty in enforcement of timber theft laws, providing “bad actors” with an opportunity to fail to pay landowners for all the wood that they harvest.

Timber sales in Virginia result in approximately 5,000 logging operations each year that provide forest landowners with payment annually totaling between $300 and $400 million. These woodland owners manage carefully for profit and stewardship of their land, and each deserves fair treatment when participating in the forest resource marketplace.

Last Updated: June 10, 2019



The highway system of Virginia properly serves the safety, convenience, pleasure, and necessities of individual citizens; it is also vital infrastructure for the state’s commerce including forest management and protection and the transport of raw material and delivery of manufactured forest products to market. Thus, our entire transportation network is critical to local economies and the economy of the state at large.

As inadequacies and shortcomings in our transportation system from time to time become evident, the Virginia Forestry Association supports the pursuit of comprehensive statewide solutions to transportation issues that will address the need of efficient transport of goods, public safety, and systems that are safe for truck drivers. It is imperative to consider all modes of transportation including rail and intermodal facilities, and to develop a fair and equitable means to finance any needed infrastructure improvements.

Equitable transportation strategies must balance the needs and impacts of both interstate and intrastate traffic and must be developed with the input of citizens and affected business interests. Alternative routes and modes of transportation must be considered to develop effective, long-term strategies that will meet the future needs of the manufacturing and commercial transportation segments of our economy. Where extraordinary funding will be required to accomplish a major transportation initiative equity demands that all beneficiaries of the project share in its costs.

Last Updated: December 20, 2002


Woody Biomass

VFA represents diverse forestry-related groups and believes that a broad range of robust markets for Virginia wood and fiber are in the best interests of forest health and sustainability, the economic prosperity of the state, and the welfare of all citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

VFA supports research, development, and demonstration efforts for woody biomass production, manufacturing and conversion to value added products as a means of providing objective information for market participants and policy makers. To inform public dialog on the benefits of using woody biomass as an energy source, it is imperative to pursue basic research identifying the actual quantity of recoverable biomass and net potential energy recovery. VFA calls for sound science as a basis for any positions or decisions related to utilization of woody biomass and promotion of wood use for energy or fuel production.

VFA acknowledges that the state has a role to play in supporting research related to emerging and existing industries, including wood and fiber businesses. Free market forces should be the primary stimulant for the use of woody biomass as a renewable fuel source and for determining the optimum fuel choices for energy generation.

Further, the Association believes that governments should not directly subsidize businesses and industries, but recognizes that extending certain incentives is a common practice by state and local governments in economic development. Such incentives should not be used if the result would be a significant and demonstrable adverse impact on existing businesses and sustainability of forest resources.

Providing abundant and affordable wood fiber for forest products and energy will require increasing the overall supply of fiber to meet demand. Steps to increase fiber supplies should include improving fiber utilization from existing harvests, increasing the available harvest from under-utilized sources, establishing new forests, and promoting silviculture of existing forests.

VFA supports government actions to promote energy production from woody biomass that is removed from public lands to reduce the threat of wildfire and insect infestation and to enhance wildlife diversity. VFA also supports the timely clean up, removal and use of woody biomass debris resulting from natural disasters.

Last Updated: November 5, 2008