Magazine article American Forests

Forest Communities Play Increasing Role in Policy Debates

Magazine article American Forests

Forest Communities Play Increasing Role in Policy Debates

Article excerpt

The idea of linking communities and forests has gotten increased attention lately, and community-based forestry groups and others interested in these issues increasingly are recognized as key players in the forest policy arena. This rising interest in community-based forestry is helped by local and regional initiatives, particularly in the West and Pacific Northwest; expanding communication channels such as the National Network of Forest Practitioners; and focused energy at the recent Seventh American Forest Congress in Washington, DC. A critical development in bringing the interests of communities into the mainstream of forest policy discussions nationally was the formation of the Communities Committee of the Seventh American Forest Congress. The Committee is a national group that spans environmental and industry, urban and rural, and national and local concerns. Chaired by Lynn Jungwirth, a community leader from Hayfork, California, the Committee includes academics, scientists, state and federal agencies, and practitioners. Jungwirth, who directs a Watershed Research and Training Center, has played a prominent role in bringing these interests to the forefront of national policy discussions.

The Communities Committee has met several times, both before and after the February Congress. The Committee's mission statement sets out the goal and key concerns of its members: "to focus attention on the interdependence between American forests and the vitality of rural and urban communities and to promote policies and actions that enhance local community well-being and sustain forest ecosystem integrity. …

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