Review: America's Private Forests: Status and Stewardship

By Piselli, Kathy | Electronic Green Journal, January 1, 2002 | Go to article overview

Review: America's Private Forests: Status and Stewardship


Piselli, Kathy, Electronic Green Journal


Review: America's Private Forests: Status and Stewardship By Constance Best and Lauire A. Wayburn Reviewed by Kathy Piselli Vistronix, Inc., USA Constance Best, & Laurie A. Wayburn. America's Private Forests: Status and Stewardship. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2001. 268 pp. ISBN 1-55963- 900-8 (cloth); ISBN: 1-55963-901-6 (paper). US$50.00 cloth; US$27.50 paper.

Forests are worth more standing than when cut down. This isn't always obvious to everyone. But it is to two co-founders of the Pacific Forest Trust, a nonprofit established in 1993 to promote good forest stewardship chiefly in private forests, and they have published a book that both outlines threats to forests and presents solutions.

The book's interest is in the preservation of biodiversity. It was commissioned by a group of conservation foundations called The Consultative Group on Biological Diversity, and analyses United States government data released in summer 2001. So in addition to identifying the major threats to private forests in the United States, this book offers guidance for conservation efforts that will lead to preservation of native biodiversity.

Best and Wayburn maintain that so-called nonindustrial private forestland owners (NIPFs) own 60% of America's forests and that most biological diversity resides in these forests. For this reason, they are not only concerned with preserving the kinds of large tracts found in Alaska, but also with defragmenting and protecting smaller tracts in the lower 48. Atlanta, Seattle, and Washington D.C. are named as containing smaller tracts that should be targeted as "at risk." These are areas that have seen between 13% and a whopping 40% population increase in the ten-year period between censuses.

Part One presents data analysis clear enough so that even those not familiar with forest conservation issues can make sense of it. Data limitations are pointed out, explaining how seemingly positive trends may mask underlying problems. For example, a statistic indicates an increase in total forest acreage but obscures the difference between acres of new pine on abandoned farmland and acres of hardwood lost to a new subdivision. …

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