Forest Fire in the American Southwest
Solutions header
The problemAnalysisSolutionsResourcesHot topicsLatest news
Ecological restoration
Mechanical thinning
Prescribed burns
Fuel treatment patterns
Smoke management
Bark beetle control
Adaptive management
Community consensus
Community forestry
Stewardship contracts
Economic opportunities
New paradigms
Site map
Search this site

Community Forestry

"If I believed the world were to end tomorrow, I would still plant a tree today."

—Martin Luther

Community forestry refers to an array of activities and programs that involves local people directly with forest management. Examples range from civic groups planting trees in urban areas to local economic development programs that link job creation with ecological restoration.

People living in forest communities understand the importance of preventing catastrophic wildfire. Forest management plans involving local populations are likely to be more effective than policies drafted in a distant city office. Some forest communities are home to ethnic cultures with long histories of land stewardship. People from these communities have acquired ecological knowledge unique to their geographies. Involving these individuals in decision-making processes benefits both forests and communities. The Forest Trust coordinates many such projects in the Intermountain West.

Wildfires know no boundaries – private lands burn as readily as public lands. Community forestry brings together public and private interests to develop mutually beneficial strategies of forest management. Grants made available to owners of private lands help with costs of restoration and with developing sustainable forest products business opportunities.

Forest certification programs lend credibility to claims of sustainable management on private lands, working in much the same way as certified organic standards apply to foods. In the words of the Community Forestry Resource Center, “Forestry certification programs provide these cooperatives as a means to assure responsible forest management. The leading initiative, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), has established ten principles for responsible forestry as well as systems to recognize good forest management in the marketplace through an FSC label. Certification has broad benefits for forest owners and cooperatives. Improved forest management and access to new markets are two tangible benefits that are already being realized by existing forestry cooperatives.” FSC guidelines also mandate prevention of catastrophic wildfire.

Community forestry looks for “win – win” solutions for people in forest communities. Collaborations between groups with diverse perspectives on forest use are inherently more effective than unilateral decisions. Local participatory democracy brings life to community forestry – life to communities and to forests.



Community Forestry Resource Center. 4/10/03. "...promotes responsible forest management by encouraging the long-term health and prosperity of small, privately owned woodlots, their owners, and their communities.” Provides links to organizations in the Intermountain West. Promotes certification through the Forest Stewardship Council.

Danks, Celia. 2000. Community forestry initiatives for the creation of sustainable rural livelihoods: a case from North America. 4/10/03. Detailed paper describing collaborations between government agencies and a community-based organization in Trinity County, California to “provide livelihood opportunities in forest stewardship for poor forest communities that were formerly dependent upon timber extraction.”

The Forest Trust. Community Forestry. 4/10/03. The Forest Trust's community forestry program is grounded in the villages of New Mexico and focuses on the varied needs of these forest-dependent communities. The Trust's rural development strategy includes business assistance, support to the growing forest restoration sector, forestry training for youth, and research that leads to public policy recommendations.

Other resources

Certified Forestry News/Community Forestry Connections. 1998. Vol. 2, No. 4. 4/10/03. On-line newsletter with articles on certified forestry and links to other resources.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Community Forestry 4/10/03. A global perspective on community forestry. Outlines U.N. programs and philosophy.

Forest Stewardship Council. 2003. 4/10/03. An international labeling scheme for forest products, intended to provide a credible guarantee that the product comes from a well-managed forest.

Friederici, Peter. 2003. The "Flagstaff Model." Pages 7-25 in Friederici, Peter, ed. Ecological Restoration of Southwestern Ponderosa Pine Forests: A Sourcebook for Research and Application. Washington, D.C. Island Press. The Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership and its "Flagstaff Model" is seen as a template for cooperative restoration efforts elsewhere, but it has had its problems.

Idaho Department of Lands. 2003. 4/10/03 Outlines community forestry programs funded by the State of Idaho, some in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service.

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. 2003. Forestry Program. 4/10/03. “...helping rural people, including farmers and other landowners, find ways to manage their woodlots and forests more profitably and sustainably.” Promotes certification through Forest Stewardship Council.

National Network of Forest Practitioners. 2003. 4/10/03. " alliance of rural people working on the ground to build a forest economy that is ecologically sound and socially just. We are a clearinghouse for information and technical assistance…” Provides links to organizations in the Intermountain West.

Romme, William H. et al. 2003. The Ponderosa Pine Forest Partnership: Ecology, economics, and community involvement in forest restoration. Pages 99-125 in Friederici, Peter, ed. Ecological Restoration of Southwestern Ponderosa Pine Forests: A Sourcebook for Research and Application. Washington, D.C. Island Press. How numerous interests coalesced to return parts of the San Juan National Forest to a condition in which a natural fire regime can prevail.

SmartWood. 1996. 4/10/03. “SmartWood is the oldest and most extensive certification program in the world. SmartWood is a program of the Rainforest Alliance…” Affiliated with the Forest Stewardship Council.

TreeLink. 2002. 4/10/03. "...provide(s) information, research, and networking for people working in urban and community forestry. For the researcher, the arborist, the community group leader, the volunteer-our purpose is to inform, educate, and inspire.”

U.S. Forest Service. 2003. Cooperative Forestry. 4/10/03. Provides links to Forest Service activities and programs in Northern and Intermountain regions. Describes grants available to state and private forest landholders.

U.S. Forest Service. Urban and Community Forestry. 4/10/03. “...helps State forestry agencies, local and tribal governments, and the private sector improve natural resource management of trees and forests in urban areas and community settings. […]facilitates the active involvement of volunteers in the management and protection of their community's natural resources. […]analyzes, develops, disseminates, and demonstrates scientific information about protecting, managing, and maintaining community forest resources.”

U.S. Forest Service Region 3. "Collaborative Forest Restoration Program." 5/27/03. Includes 2003 Request for Proposals and Multi-Party Monitoring and Assement Guidelines for Community-based Forest Restoration in Southwestern Ponderosa Pine Forest.

Last edited June 25, 2003

Go to top

NAU's Program in Community, Culture and Environment Northern Arizona University