All across the United States, community-governed forests are blossoming, and the movement contributes to the conservation of those green spaces, brings educational benefits, and generates income to urban and rural communities alike.
“People are embracing the idea that the forests they rely on for their water and recreation aren’t somewhere else – they’re the woods next door,” says Scott Stewart, a program manager with the U.S. Forest Service’s community forests program.
Since the U.S. Forest Service program launched its community forest grants in 2012, it has helped set up more than 60 projects totaling close to 10,000 hectares, providing $20 million in funding. The benefits of community forests are compiled in an analysis released by the Trust for Public Land. “These [forests] are proving to be incredibly important financial investments for the communities” through jobs and revenues. Tourism and educational opportunities are also areas tapped into.