With all the challenges that face us in the world of forestry today, it pays to have the assistance and support of forestry-related associations. We can accomplish much more when we capitalize on the collective strengths of independent organizations. Time and again, we call on our partners for their help on a host of issues ranging from legislative affairs to educational opportunities.
Here in Louisiana, the Office of Forestry works very closely with the Louisiana Forestry Association, Louisiana Landowners Association and parish (that's "county" for those of you not from the Bayou State) forestry associations. Through these and several others, we are afforded the council and feedback of the greatest cross section of individuals with forestry minded concerns. The respected membership of each entity ranges from forest industry representatives to private landowners.
As with most of the South, Louisiana's forest lands are predominately privately owned. In fact, roughly 81 percent is owned by private, non-industrial landowners, while industry only makes up 10 percent of the forest land ownership and the remaining 9 percent being public lands. Of the private landowners, slightly less than half are what we consider small tract landowners, with 40 acres or less. This combination creates a diverse group of landowners requiring land management assistance. This industry component employs professional foresters to address the needs of small tract landowners, while consulting foresters or firms generally work with the larger tract landowners. The Office of Forestry's mission is to serve all forestry needs in the state. As a result, our land management services are particularly important to the owners of smaller tracts of forest land.
This is where engaging association members becomes extremely important. Since landowners often share similar issues, the associations serve as a democratic voice on their behalf. Louisiana Office of Forestry staff members and foresters have the opportunity to join and/or attend association functions in order to interact with members and discuss issues requiring assistance. Similarly, these functions serve as a means to communicate our needs as well. Where else can one find the diversity of landowners, management styles and opinions for input affecting the services that we provide? As Chief Tecumseh of the Shawnee proclaimed, "A single twig breaks, but a bundle of twigs is strong." The collaborative effort on the part of many individuals strengthens a comprehensive State forestry asset.
We are very fortunate here in Louisiana to be able to depend on the members of our various associations. They provide a practical means of expanding our efforts to promote sound forestry practices. Our collective network insures that our efforts and policies provide for sustainable forests for years to come.