Magazine article American Forests

Getting along in the Woods

Magazine article American Forests

Getting along in the Woods

Article excerpt

"Cooperative conservation" is in the air-and not a moment too soon.

During the summer the White House sponsored a first-time-ever conference on Cooperative Conservation. Participants from the public and private sectors gathered to hear about successful examples of partnerships and, more importantly, to offer ideas for better collaboration to the administration and government agencies. Everyone there agreed that together we can do so much more than we can individually, and administration officials in attendance pledged to make collaboration easier.

AMERICAN FORESTS has practiced cooperative conservation for 130 years. Recently, this work has gained additional attention. Our Policy center, for instance, works with local community-based forestry groups to bridge the gap between local forest efforts and national policy. We believe better forestry policy should rely on lessons learned in communities across the country, communities that have moved from being dependent on forests to being interdependent with them.

Our work in this area has broad support both from local collaborative groups and federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and the innovative foundation community, which sees in this movement a new future for forest conservation and local economic development.

Contributing editor Jane Braxton Little attended a recent conference to examine first-hand some local efforts to acquire land in the wake of massive forest industry land divestiture. These new "community forests" (p. 7) add a 21st century twist to the 18th century practice of preserving community forests for the benefit of all the townspeople.

A positive side effect will be forests that remain forests; fragmentation and conversion to other uses, like housing developments, is the greatest threat to our forests today. That risk, as author Rhonda Mazza notes hi "New Currency for Conservation" (p.43), undermines the value of our forests to provide ecosystem services like clean air and water.

AMERICAN FORESTS based its Global ReLeaf program on the idea of cooperative conservation. Critical forests are restored by bringing public agendes and local community groups who want to restore forests through tree planting together with corporate sponsors and individual donors who seek to help sustain forests' life-giving benefits. …

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