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Sustainable Forest Management
             in the United States

                                   Edited by
                               V. Alaric Sample
                           Stephanie L. Kavanaugh
                              Mary M. Snieckus

                                   May 2006

                                   EXECUTIVE OFFICE:
                       1616 P Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
             Phone: 202/797-6580 • Fax: 202/797-6583 •
                         GREY TOWERS NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE:
                          P.O. Box 949, Milford, PA 18337
                      Phone: 570/296-9630 • Fax: 570/296-9675
                                 ince its dedication in 1963, the Pinchot Institute for Conservation has
                                 worked to advance thought, policy, and action in support of sustainable
                                 forest management. The Pinchot Institute has been working address
                           conservation challenges in American forests through continuous improvement
                           in domestic natural resource policy at national, regional and community
                           levels. It has also sought to provide linkages to international efforts to advance
                           the science, art and practice of sustainable forest management. Thinking
                           globally and acting locally is a principle that is more essential in natural
                           resource and environmental policy than in perhaps any other field of human
                           endeavor. It is in this role as convener and analyst that the Pinchot Institute
                           undertook this project to learn about and assess domestic progress towards
V. Alaric Sample           sustainable forest management.
                            Advancing Sustainable Forest Management in the United States is the result of a
five-year effort by the Pinchot Institute, in cooperation with numerous public, private and nonprofit
conservation organizations. Our objective was to summarize the broad array of activities currently under
way in the U.S., all aimed at improving the protection and sustainable management of forests on both
public and private lands, and provide a basis for future actions. During this time, the U.S. forestry
community has learned important lessons about its forests, the people and organizations that are
responsible for their management, and the interests of a broad array of individuals and communities who
have a stake in their conservation and sustainable use. Many of these lessons have emerged from
Americans seeing their own forests in a new light, in context with other developed and developing
nations that are each striving in their own way toward the goal of sustainable forest management.
Advancing Sustainable Forest Management in the United States is intended to be used in conjunction with
the National Report on Sustainable Forests – 2003, published by the USDA Forest Service. The National
Report on Sustainable Forests provided a snapshot of current conditions and trends in America’s forests.
Advancing Sustainable Forest Management in the United States reflects the thinking of some of the nation’s
conservation leaders about strengths and weaknesses of current efforts toward sustainable forest
management, key conditions and trends that will require more attention, and suggestions about where
focused effort is needed. These suggestions center around better coordination and scalability of existing
datasets and maps, full cost accounting to include the ecological, economic and cultural values contributed
by forests, and better communication among the various public, private and non-governmental groups at
federal, regional state and local levels to assist in making these efforts more effective.
The information in Advancing Sustainable Forest Management in the United States provides a starting
point for evaluating the status and trends in U.S. forests, and serves as the basis for an ongoing national
dialogue about what further actions are needed and what the priorities should be. This is but one step in
the journey towards sustainable forest management in the U.S. Yet as a static report, its value is limited.
Its future value depends on thoughtful people to draw from it the pieces that will help advance their own
cooperative efforts, and thereby advance our collective progress toward the protection and sustainable
management of America’s forests. We look forward to working together to achieve this important goal.
                                                                        V. Alaric Sample
                                                                        Pinchot Institute for Conservation

                                                          PINCHOT INSTITUTE FOR CONSERVATION                    i
This report was prepared by the Pinchot Institute in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service Office of International
Programs and the U.S. Department of State. Sections of this report served as the basis for U.S. country reports to the
United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), which are posted on the UNFF website. The following federal and state
agencies and nongovernmental organizations provided information for this report including:

      • American Forest Foundation                                 • National Woodland Owners Association
      • American Forest and Paper Association                      • NatureServe
      • Bureau of Indian Affairs                                   • Society of American Foresters
      • Bureau of Land Management                                  • USDA Foreign Agricultural Service
      • Congressional Research Service                             • USDA Forest Service
      • Cooperative State Research, Education and                  • USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service
        Extension Service                                          • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
      • Forest Landowners Association                              • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
      • Land Trust Alliance                                        • U.S. Geological Survey
      • National Association of State Foresters                    • U.S. State Department
      • National Park Service                                      • The Nature Conservancy
      • National Parks Conservation Association                    • World Resources Institute
      • National Science Foundation                                • World Wildlife Fund – US

                                                                 PINCHOT INSTITUTE FOR CONSERVATION                      iii
WELCOME . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i   APPENDIX B—INTERAGENCY AND STAKEHOLDER
                                                                              ASSESSMENT WORKSHOP RESULTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-1
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii
                                                                                   1. National Forestry Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-3
TABLE OF CONTENTS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v             2. Combating Deforestation and
                                                                                      Forest Degradation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-4
MANAGEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1                        3. Protected Areas and Forest Conservation . . . . B-5
     Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2             4. Forests in Environmentally Critical Areas . . . . B-6
     Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2          5. Economic Aspects of Forests . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-7
     Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3        6. Forest Health and Productivity . . . . . . . . . . B-11
     Process Used to Assess Forest                                                 7. Maintaining Forest Cover to Meet
     Management in the United States . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3                      Present and Future Needs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-13
     Key Workshop Findings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4             8. Social and Cultural Aspects of Forests. . . . . . B-15
     Processing Workshop Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6              9. Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge . . . . . . B-17
     UNFF Proposals for Action—Summary Categories . . . 7                         10. Scientific Forest-Related Knowledge . . . . . . . B-18
     Analysis of Stakeholder Responses . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8                11. Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting
                                                                                      Using Criteria and Indicators. . . . . . . . . . . . B-20
     Policy, Information, and
     Coordination Challenges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10         APPENDIX C—KEY TRENDS IDENTIFIED BY
     Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13    STAKEHOLDERS LINKED TO CONCISE PROPOSAL
                                                                              FOR ACTION SUMMARY STATEMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . C-1
METHODS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16        Key Trends Identified by Stakeholders
     Table Descriptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17          Linked to Concise Proposal for
                                                                                  Action Summary Statements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C-2
     Description of Appendices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
END NOTES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

IPF/IFF PROPOSALS FOR ACTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A-1
       1. National Forestry Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A-2
       2. Combating Deforestation and
          Forest Degradation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A-4
       3. Protected Areas and Forest Conservation. . . . A-12
       4. Forests in Environmentally Critical Areas. . . . A-22
       5. Economic Aspects of Forests . . . . . . . . . . . . A-30
       6. Forest Health and Productivity . . . . . . . . . . A-53
       7. Maintaining Forest Cover to
          Meet Present and Future Needs . . . . . . . . . . A-58
       8. Social and Cultural Aspects of Forests. . . . . . A-61
       9. Traditional Forest Related Knowledge . . . . . . A-78
     10. Scientific Forest Related Knowledge . . . . . . . A-83
     11. Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting
         Using Criteria and Indicators of
         Sustainable Forest Management . . . . . . . . . . A-93

                                                                              PINCHOT INSTITUTE FOR CONSERVATION                                v

Executive Summary                                                facilitate coordination among institutions on current and
Periodic snapshots of forest conditions and trends, such as      future policy and information systems. Although
the National Report on Sustainable Forests – 2003 and the        stakeholders identified specific technical information needs
Resources Planning Act (RPA) Assessments, are important          and budgetary constraints as challenges, neither factor was
but not sufficient to address priority needs for improving       thought to be the most critical near term barrier to
the conservation and sustainable management of forests in        effectively addressing forest trends and issues of concern. To
the U.S. Data from these snapshots can be synthesized and        advance sustainable forest management of forests in the
interpreted to help identify forest conditions and trends        U.S., improving the cooperation and coordination among
that are widely acknowledged to be both unacceptable and         the agencies, organizations and individuals with a stake in
of high priority. Additional information about available         our nation’s forests is essential.
tools and their adequacy is then required to identify
specific opportunities to improve the institutional, legal,
policy and program framework needed so that timely
effective action can be taken to address these forest
conditions and trends of concern.
This document summarizes the current tools by which we
can make change – the policies, programs and activities
that comprise the existing institutional framework in place
to advance the sustainable management of our nation’s
forests. These tools are actively being implemented at the
national, state and local levels by public, tribal and private
agencies and organizations. In stakeholder workshops held
between 2000 and 2005, conservation leaders were asked
to evaluate the adequacy of these existing efforts and
suggest additional steps to promote the conservation and
sustainable management of U.S. forests.
Workshop participants identified the lack of coordination
among existing agencies and institutions as the most
significant barrier to effectively advancing the conservation
and sustainable management of forests in the U.S.
Participants noted the need for an ongoing national-level
dialogue on sustainable forest management, and asserted
that this dialogue should be organized to enable
cooperation among a broader range and diversity of
government and citizen stakeholders to develop and
implement solutions to these problems.
Workshop participants highlighted shortcomings in two
broad areas as focal points for increased coordination
among agencies and institutions:                                 Introduction
                                                                 The conservation and sustainable management of the
  1.Policy development and implementation                        nation’s forests is important to Americans. For more than a
    mechanisms.                                                  century, concerned citizens and professionals have worked
  2.Information development and analysis systems.                to improve the management of forests on both public and
                                                                 private lands to provide a wide variety of goods, services,
Taking effective action to address priority forest trends and    and values. With leadership by federal and state agencies,
conditions of concern will require that this more inclusive      business, universities, public interest conservation
national dialogue on sustainable forest management               organizations, and millions of individual private forestland

owners, America’s forests are more managed today than at
any time in the nation’s history. The important conditions
and trends in America’s forests were described in detail in
the National Report on Sustainable Forests – 2003, published
by the USDA Forest Service.
Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, new challenges
confront the owners and managers of America’s forests—
including an increasing number of major wildfires, invasive
species and other insects and diseases, environmental
degradation from recreation overuse, climate change,
and fragmentation of forests by development and
changes in forest ownership. Certainly, action is needed
to address these challenges, but what actions, and by
whom? What actions are most important to take in the
near term? What efforts are already under way, and how
can they be strengthened? Do we have the capacity to
make a difference?
                                                                 Process Used to Assess Forest
                                                                 Management in the United States
                                                                 In 2001, the Pinchot Institute for Conservation was invited
Advancing Sustainable Forest Management in the United            by Federal land management agencies to facilitate a process
States provides both information about many of the               to help the agencies and other stakeholders understand
activities of government, nongovernmental organizations          more about sustainable forest management efforts in the
(NGOs), and private sector entities engaged in                   United States. This work would also be shared with other
sustainable forest management in the United States, and          countries at the United Nation’s Forum on Forests engaged
impressions of the adequacy of these activities. It is           in similar work. This work had three objectives: (1) identify
designed as a complement to the National Report on               current private and governmental institutions and activities
Sustainable Forests – 2003, which provided a                     that contribute to sustainable forest management in the
comprehensive picture of conditions and trends in                United States, (2) assess their effectiveness, and (3) establish
America’s forests.1 It highlights key issues and priority        priorities for future action.
actions identified in a series of agency and stakeholder
workshops which were conducted from 2001 through                 First, the Pinchot Institute compiled a representative,
2005. While the National Report identified areas where           but not exhaustive, list of information on the laws,
data were inconclusive or lacking, it did not attempt to         policies and programs contributing to the sustainable
prioritize issues and suggested only limited next steps to       management of America’s forests. This list of activities
move toward sustainable forest management.                       and actors was gathered through discussions with the
                                                                 government agencies, tribes, forest industry and con-
Advancing Sustainable Forest Management in the United            servation organizations that are initiating and carrying
States begins to fill this gap. It is intended that, together,   out these activities.
these two reports will serve as a reference and starting point
for those planning strategic actions to advance sustainable      Next, a series of stakeholder workshops was conducted to
management of forests in the United States. While                review and supplement the initial activities list. The final
stakeholders acknowledged that the results of some               compilation is found in Appendix A. Participation in these
important actions may not be measurable in the short run,        workshops was open to all interested organizations and
they observed that decisive actions taken in the near term       individuals. The largest proportion of participants
will be key to making progress that can only be measured         represented federal, state, and tribal governments, especially
over the longer term, and will continue to inform actions        from agencies responsible for environmental protection and
that yield benefits over time.                                   natural resource management.

                                                                 PINCHOT INSTITUTE FOR CONSERVATION                           3
In these workshops, participants were asked to consider all                    They also suggest significant opportunities for action from
aspects of forest management: environmental, economic,                         an institutional point of view that build on the work of
and social, organized by the following categories:2                            others, particularly on issues judged by stakeholders to
                                                                               need further effort.
      1. National Forestry Programs*
      2. Combating Deforestation and Forest Degradation                        Key Workshop Findings
      3. Protected Areas and Forest Conservation                               Forest stakeholders participating in the workshops
      4. Forests in Environmentally Critical Areas                             highlighted serious concerns about eight current forest
      5. Economic Aspects of Forests                                           trends and conditions in the United States (Box 1). Most
      6. Forest Health and Productivity                                        of these problems have long been recognized. The public
      7. Maintaining Forest Cover to Meet Present and
         Future Needs
      8. Social and Cultural Aspects of Forests
      9. Traditional Forest-related Knowledge                                  BOX 1: Key Resource Trends
     10. Scientific Forest-related Knowledge                                   and Conditions of Concern
     11. Monitoring, Assessment, and Reporting Using                            1. Loss of forest cover and shifts in forestland use.
         Criteria and Indicators                                                    • Fragmentation of forests by development and other
                                                                                      non-forestland uses, with diminishment of a wide
After reviewing and supplementing the initial activity list,                          variety of forest values and “ecological services.”
workshop participants evaluated the adequacy of the laws,
                                                                                    • Forest industry divestitures of large, contiguous
programs and policies. They also suggested additional steps
                                                                                      areas of forestland to other categories of ownership,
that could promote the conservation and sustainable                                   often with negative consequences for forestland
management of U.S. forests. These results are summarized                              conservation and longer-term commitments to
in Appendix B.                                                                        sustainable forest management.
As the final step in this consultative process, the Pinchot                         • Parcelization of private forests into smaller and
Institute convened a workshop in which participants were                              more numerous tracts, often making these tracts
asked to review the preliminary evaluations (ratings) of the                          more difficult and less economical to manage.
adequacy of actions on all aspects of forest management in                      2. Conservation of biological diversity, including
the United States. This conference had a greater diversity of                      representation of the full range of ecotypes and native
participants, with representatives of conservation NGOs,                           plant/animal communities, as well as habitat protection
private forest landowners, and forest industry, in addition                        for rare, local, threatened, or endangered species on
to federal, state, and tribal agencies. Participants offered                       public and private lands.
additional views on the adequacy of U.S. efforts, identified                    3. Alien invasive species displacing native plant and
critical issues and trends, and suggested further actions to                       animal species through aggressive competition or
better conserve and manage U.S. forests.                                           introduction of new pathogens.
These two appendices make information available to U.S.                         4. Large-scale insect and disease outbreaks, including
forest managers, practitioners and citizens on the variety of                      outbreaks of native species, especially those left
programs, activities, and actors working on different aspects                      uncontrolled at their origin subsequently spreading to
                                                                                   adjacent forestlands.
of sustainable forest management in the United States.
                                                                                5. Catastrophic wildfire that threatens local communities
* Originally entitled “National Forest Programs,” this category title refers       as well as forest resources.
to a comprehensive forestland stewardship strategy that is applied within
a country’s national borders. The current title “National Forestry              6. Role of plantations vs. natural forests in supplying
Programs” was chosen to avoid confusion with the officially designated             both products for human needs and wildlife habitat,
National Forest Programs that exist in many countries. The United                  including replacement of natural forests with
States itself does not have a formally designated National Forest                  intensively managed forest plantations.
Program, but workshop participants considered that a national forestry
program in the United States would include policies and programs of             7. Climate change effects on forest ecosystems and how
federal natural resource agencies (including research and landowner                humans and the ecosystems adapt.
assistance, as well as management of federal lands), as well as of state and
                                                                                8. Forest health on public and private lands.
local governments.

and private sectors have made significant investments of         BOX 2: Policies and Implementation
time and resources to resolve them. In spite of these efforts,
however, stakeholders regarded the following trends and          Mechanisms Needing Development or
conditions as continuing to be problematic and in need of        Stronger Reinforcement
focused attention and action by the forest sector. Part of
this response would be accomplished through significantly        • Voluntary market-based approaches (rather than
enhanced efficiency and cooperation among existing                 government regulation) for promoting conservation and
institutions.                                                      sustainable forest management.
                                                                 • Monetization of ecosystem services to facilitate
Policy and implementation mechanisms form the                      increased financial support for private forest land-
institutional, legal, and policy framework for timely              owners providing multiple public benefits to retain
government, industry, NGO, and landowner recognition               their lands in forest cover and in larger ownerships,
and actions to address concerns summarized in Box 1.               including public/private partnerships that bring these
Participants identified 11 policies and mechanisms that            markets to scale.
need development or stronger reinforcement to more
effectively address the challenges they are designed to          • Full-cost accounting to make clear the domestic and
overcome (Box 2).                                                  international environmental, economic, and social
                                                                   impacts of U.S. domestic policy decisions and U.S.
                                                                   demand for wood fiber and products. Adopt a strong
                                                                   policy against illegal logging.
                                                                 • Forest certification to enhance public confidence in
                                                                   forest management and to provide consumers with more
                                                                   environmentally acceptable wood products.
                                                                 • Protection of high-conservation value forests on both
                                                                   public and private lands, with improved targeting and
                                                                   attention to underrepresented ecosystems and regions.
                                                                 • Community-based stewardship for ecological
                                                                   restoration, recreation management, and long-term
                                                                   maintenance of a wide variety of conservation values.
                                                                 • Public and private conservation easements in which
                                                                   public conservation values can be demonstrated,
                                                                   protected and monitored over time.
                                                                 • Public and private investments in both broad and
                                                                   targeted forest research, working to build in
                                                                   applications and technology transfer considerations
                                                                   from the start.
                                                                 • New markets to facilitate ecological restoration,
                                                                   including renewable energy development through
                                                                   biomass energy to offset fossil fuel consumption and
                                                                   reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
                                                                 • Incorporation of more cross-sectoral and exogenous
                                                                   factors in long-term assessments and forecasts, such as
                                                                   the Resources Planning Act Assessments (RPA).
                                                                 • Integration of Criteria and Indicators3 into monitor-
                                                                   ing, assessment, and reporting by agencies to improve
                                                                   collaborative multi-scale monitoring and reporting.

                                                                 PINCHOT INSTITUTE FOR CONSERVATION                          5
The group also observed that shortcomings in information
development and analysis continue to pose a significant
barrier to effective, coordinated action to address forest
conditions and trends in the U.S. While there are
limitations on the technology and budgets for collecting
information on all the important aspects of forests,
opportunities exist to make better use of the information
already being collected. Better information management
can improve the capacity of scientists and the American
public to understand ongoing changes in forest ecosystems,
and of policymakers to make decisions that are timely,
scientifically sound, economically feasible and socially
responsible. Stakeholders identified nine information-
related areas that need improvement (Box 3).

BOX 3: Information Management
Systems Needing Development or
Stronger Reinforcement
 • Development of consistent baseline mapping that
   includes attributes to assess forest condition at the
   stand level.
                                                              Processing Workshop Data
 • Agreed-upon protocols for collecting, organizing, and
   sharing information on public and private forests.
                                                              Stakeholder workshops and data were organized around
                                                              evaluating the U.S. experience with sustainable forest
 • Development and use of key environmental indicators,       management by using the Proposals for Action, a set of
   similar to the basic economic indicators.                  statements negotiated under international processes
 • Evaluation of the effects of regional, national, and       throughout the 1990s. The United Nations Conference on
   international factors outside the forest sector on         Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992, also
   forests, including the impacts of U.S. wood fiber and      known as the Rio Earth Summit, produced a set of Forest
   product demand and U.S. forest policy on forests           Principles as a basis for action. Over the next eight years,
   around the world.                                          an Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) and later the
 • Objective-based monitoring, with clear links to            Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) produced a set
   understanding the impacts of natural and human-            of more than 270 Proposals for Action, aimed at improving
   induced environmental change.                              all aspects of forestry—ecological, economic, and social.
 • Assessment of the condition and effectiveness of           The Proposals for Action, which are neither restrictive nor
   protected areas.                                           legally binding, provide a guide for countries to assess their
 • Improved reporting, compilation, synthesis, and            progress towards sustainable forest management and to
   presentation of information so that it is useful to        prioritize and design actions to improve their management.
   policymakers and decision-makers at a variety of scales    In 2000, the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF)
   and governmental levels.                                   was established as a permanent international body to
 • Stronger involvement of nontraditional communities,        facilitate and support the implementation of these
   including underserved and/or immigrant communities,        Proposals for Action by nations around the world. In the
   in these processes to acquire knowledge and enhanced       United States, the Proposals were used as the organizing
   involvement.                                               framework for the process described in this report, to
 • Fine-tuned information needs relevant to priority issues   categorize ongoing activities relevant to advancing sustain-
   as a basis for developing information systems and          able forest management, and to help identify gaps and
   investment planning.                                       opportunities to address issues important in this country.


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