There are four primary functions or characteristics of community forests:
- Permanent protection of the land;
- The community receives value and benefits from the land;
- The community has access and rights to the forest resources; and
- The community participates in management decisions.
Community Forests, Working Forests, and Other TermsNot all community forests are managed for timber harvests: some are left natural and are, instead, used for recreation, watershed protection and more. In the United States, the New England region has the most community-owned forests. Public policies and land transfers enabled local governments to create "town forests” that provide open space and trails for hiking, cross-country skiing, and other recreational activities.
In addition to these "community-owned forests" (a term many use interchangeably with "community forests") there is a larger "community forestry" movement that is growing steadily in the western United States. “Community forestry” can be understood in broader terms, to include community involvement in forest management, protection and other acyivities such as community members having access to federal forested lands for harvest of non-timber forest products (mushrooms, ornamental plants, etc.)
Our Role In Community ForestsEstablishing community forests offers incredible opportunities for local collaboration, economic gain, environmental protection, and addressing the economic and social needs of some of our nation's most underserved communities. Here are two examples of the community forests we've helped start up.
McIntosh SEEDIn the coastal flatwoods of Georgia, our Working Forest Fund, Land Conservation Loans program and Resourceful Communities program teamed up with a nonprofit organization, McIntosh SEED, and community members of Long and McIntosh counties to create the state's first community forest. TCF’s Working Forest Fund had purchased and permanently protected 1,149 acres of managed forestland in Long County, in close proximity to Fort Stewart. Resourceful Communities worked with McIntosh SEED, which had a long track record of natural resource-based economic development. Land Conservation Loan Program has provided the critical capital to enable McIntosh SEED to purchase the land. After completing a comprehensive masterplan that takes into account both the land and community needs, the McIntosh SEED Community Forest is being sustainably managed and is serving as a new rural model for economic progress with myriad benefits to both the local residents and the environment.
Learn More:Resourceful Communities Program
Our work in North Carolina
Graphic created by Audrey Archer and Erika Zambello.