Private forest owners own 85 percent of the region’s forests and are at the heart of the New England landscape. Landowners regularly face difficult management decisions about their land and often have little information on which to base their decisions.
While many woodlands fall well below their potential for sustainable wood production, in other areas:
• short-term economic pressures lead to extensive high-grading and clear-cutting
• erosion from badly constructed access roads contributes tons of sediment to streams
• regulations on “liquidation” harvesting are ignored: parcels are purchased, stripped for timber, and split into subdivisions
• lack of oversight can lead to mismanagement of lands previously designated for conservation
Increased communication between policymakers, foresters, forest landowners, and wood producers about the public benefits of long-term forest management on permanent conservation easements on private lands can lead to policies that benefit both sellers and buyers of local wood products.
W&W partner Highstead is playing a lead role in an innovative pilot project to reach out to landowners on stewardship and conservation that should help inform efforts on this key issue across the region. Wildlands and Woodlands has brought together foresters, wood producers, and other professionals in southern New England to share their experiences and work toward best practices in the rapidly urbanizing environment. The New England Forest Policy Group advocates for federal funding that will support both sustainable forestry and other economic and technical support — as well as conservation — so that the region’s landowners can continue to see economic return and fiber supply from the forested landscape within ecologically sustainable parameters.