Forest Health, Resiliency, and Sustainability
Throughout the nation, states and territories are seeking ways to increase forest health, resiliency, and sustainability in the face of increasing threats from urbanization, globalization, and climate change. State forestry agencies welcome partnerships with local landowners, other natural resource agencies, federal and tribal landowners, and private organizations that coordinate efforts to better manage forests and address the threats that face them. States also value and make significant use of programs under State & Private Forestry in the U.S. Forest Service, including Forest Health, Forest Stewardship, and Forest Legacy.
Forest Pests and Invasive Plants
As global trade increases and people and goods travel more widely and more frequently, damaging invasive species are arriving at an increasing rate. More and more often, foresters are dealing with dead and dying trees that have fallen victim to an invasive species, and the resulting destroyed habitat, economic loss of forest products and the void in cities, towns and natural areas once populated by thriving trees and forests. Healthier forests are better able to withstand the assault from invasive insects and pathogens and, it is hoped, will be better able to adapt to the effects of climate change. A number of strategic approaches by state forestry agencies and the Forest Health Program of the U.S. Forest Service are helping to slow the spread of invasives, restore damaged habitats, and educate the public.
Keeping Forests Forested
Forest fragmentation and conversion to other uses are significant impediments to managing forests for their sustainability and health. Many of the states and territories are approaching an “intergenerational transfer” of ownership as forestland estates pass to heirs or are sold off. This transfer of family forestlands threatens working forest uses as these lands may have higher value to the new generation in terms of their sale value for non-forest uses. Furthermore, as lots are subdivided, the resulting smaller parcels make profitably harvesting timber more difficult. Some regions are experiencing an increasing diversity in their forest users. With changing demographics, management policies and activities that recognize different cultural needs are essential for effective management of forest resources. Many state Forest Action Plans include strategies for enhancing the financial viability of private forest ownership and for providing increased levels of customer service and technical assistance to diverse private landowners.
Working with Landowners
States are improving forest health through increased communication and coordination among landowners. According to the National Woodland Owners Survey, only four percent of family forest owners report having a written management plan. As a result, most Forest Action Plans have strategies focused on outreach and support to private forest landowners. State forestry agencies deliver expertise and planning assistance to private landowners through the Forest Stewardship Program as well as conservation and ownership transition assistance provided through the Forest Legacy Program.