Quick Guide on Community-Owned Forests

Baltimore, MD (April 21, 2008)- The Communities Committee offers a Quick Guide that provides an introduction to community-owned and managed forests as an approach to conserving private forests that has been gaining increasing attention. The Quick Guide captures key information and learning shared at the conference and from more recent experiences in community-owned forests. It discusses what community forests are and the benefits they provide, outlines the background leading to efforts to increase community ownership of forestlands, provides examples of community forests from across the country, and introduces how communities can acquire and manage forests.

In recent years, privately-owned forestland has been changing hands rapidly, particularly as large timber and forest products companies divest their land holdings. The result is often smaller parcels of forestland and increasing fragmentation of ownership. As ownership patterns shift, forests are increasingly being developed for commercial or residential uses.
* Since 1978, 20-25% of all privately-owned forest land has changed ownership; approximately 75% of industry-owned private forestland changed hands between 1996 and 2005.
* Estimates suggest that another 20% of private forestland could change hands in the next ten years.
* Research by the USDA Forest Service shows that conversion of forestland to developed uses reached 1 million acres per year in the 1990s.
* Projections are that in the next 30 years, another 44.2 million acres, over 11% of all private forestland, will experience dramatic increases in housing development.
To read more, visit Communities Committee Quick Guide on Community-Owned Forests.