Forest Fragmentation: “Eight out of ten Americans now live in urban metropolitan areas, and all of them benefit from forests whether they know it or not. Working forests are those that are managed (1) to increase water yield (2) to provide sustainable harvests of wood for large and small companies and (3) with attention to protection of biodiversity, wildlife habitat and beauty.” (National Woodlands, Autumn 2011).
It is ironic that it is metropolitan political constituencies that are driving our nation’s detrimental forest policies and no less poignant that nowhere is forest fragmentation more damaging than on the periphery of our major metropolitan areas, where development pressures are expanding concentrically upon surrounding rural forests. “Forest Service studies have projected a net loss from 1997 to 2050 of 23 million acres, an area the size of Maine-and increased housing density from 2000 to 2030 on 57 million acres of forest land, an area larger than Utah” (Tidwell, Pinchot Letter, Fall 2012). The twin drivers of forest fragmentation are (a) ex-urban development particularly in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern states, and (b) the simultaneous demographics of an aging forest landowner population.
As the Pinchot Institute editorialized back in the winter of 2005, “private forest lands, not including those owned by integrated forestry products companies, account for nearly 50 percent of all the forest land in the United States, and nearly 60 percent of all productive timberland…more than 60 percent of today’s forest owners are older than 55, and more than half of these are older than 65.” That was written eight years ago! They are older still today!
RFF is the only organization focused on this demographic cliff facing forest land owners nationwide and providing a rich array of informational solutions to facilitate intergenerational transfer.
Stay Tuned, Part III of the We Need a Forest Policy Fix Trilogy is coming Friday.
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It's important to the future of forest conservation in this country!
Amos Eno is the president of the Land Conservation Assistance Network. This blog will help you understand why we do what we do and inform you of the current happenings in our focus area.
Read more about Amos S. Eno.
Amos S. Eno has worked in conservation for over 38 years on international, national and state levels. He began his career early in the 70’s working for Nat Reed in the Office of the Secretary of Interior. Subsequently he worked in the Office of Endangered Species, USFWS, and as head of National Audubon Society’s wildlife office in Washington, DC. He developed the programs of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation from inception and served as Executive Director for 11 years. While with the New England Forestry Foundation he led the team completing the 2 largest forestry conservation easements in the U.S. totaling 1.1 million acres. He has travelled around the world, and spent three years in Africa which provided seminal instruction on the importance of private lands as the key to 21st century conservation strategies.