With so many threats currently facing our nation’s forests; climate change, invasive species, urban and suburban sprawl, pests, disease, fire or lack thereof, etc., effective landscape stewardship is more necessary than ever, it is especially critical in Northeast and Midwestern states. This region is home to nearly half of the country’s population and 43% of forested land, making conservation urgent. Together, the Forest Service of the northeast partnered with the Northeastern Area Association of State Foresters (NAASF) are trying to address conservation at the landscape scale by crossing ownership boundaries to collaborate against the threats to our forests.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsnack is promoting an “all lands” approach to conservation; emphasizing health and wellness in communities while protecting them from wildfires, restoring impacted forest land and developing sustainable methods for improving and maintaining water quality. The National Association of State Foresters (NASF) shares this vision with the Secretary and recently stated their mission in alignment with the “all lands” approach; they recognize the intrinsic value of lands under any ownership and in any place, public, private, urban or rural. Additionally, Secretary Vilsnack goes on to articulate that the Forest Service is not responsible for the stewardship and fate solely of National Forests (which only account for 7% of national forested land) but can and must use its formidable stewardship abilities to concern itself with tribal, private, state and urban lands as well.
Both the Forest Service and NASF recognize that threats to our forested lands do not stop at land ownership boundaries and must be confronted full force with a collaborative effort from landowners, agencies, resource professionals and stakeholders armed with knowledge. The Landscape Stewardship Project, through the Forest Stewardship Program, administered by the Forest Service is working with state forest agencies to develop and implement the program in a way that accentuates the ties between individual landowners and the larger landscape. The also aim to encourage the development of multi-use. multi-owner, landscape-scale stewardship plans. Private landowners are invited and urged to participate in the interest of keeping their land as healthy and productive as possible, for their current use and for preservation for future generations. Forestland eligible under this program includes any non-industrial private forest lands owned by a private individual, group association, corporation, Indian tribe or other private, legal entity. Rural land which has already has canopy cover or is suitable for growing trees can also be encompassed by the Landscape Stewardship Project.
For more information about landscape conservation visit; http://landscapestewardship.org/ or to read the comprehensive statement from the three mission areas of the Forest Service (Eastern Region, Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry, and Northern Research Station) and the Northeastern Area Association of State Foresters visit http://www.na.fs.fed.us/stewardship/pubs/conservation/landscale_conservation.pdf.