The research will develop a general conceptual model of the legal, institutional, and economic factors that are required to translate broad international and national policy goals to use forests to store carbon and mitigate climate change into practical on-the-ground approaches that will be required for public policies, public agencies, and public and private landowners to change their land management practices to participate in the programs. Next, we will gauge the amount of land area, funding, technical capacity and personnel, financial incentives, and costs and returns for landowners, and similar components to assess program needs and challenges. We will review the assessments and analyses carried out for our 2020 Criterion 7 Report, including Indicators 45 (Legislation and Policies), Indicator 47 (Taxation and Other Economic Strategies), and Indicator 50 (Programs, Services, and Other Resources), which will support the problem analysis of the subject and will be used to information detailed subsequent research.
Economic pressures felt by rural communities in the United States, combined with simultaneous social and environmental threats to forests in rural areas, require innovative approaches. Many communities seek support for preserving their ways of life and connections to the resources around them as well as help in adapting to changing social and environmental circumstances. Community forests are proposed as one option for addressing these goals and issues, but require sound scientific assessment to understand how and when they lead to enhanced forest protection and improved socioeconomic opportunities in the United States. This project will generate policy and practical insights for the establishment and support of community forests as an innovative approach to maximize forest conservation and rural prosperity in the U.S. The research will examine What factors and conditions enable community forestry initiatives in the U.S. to enhance the sustainability of forests while promoting rural prosperity and well-being? ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã†â€™ The research objectives are: 1) Identify and inventory community forests in the United States, documenting key characteristics such as land ownership, management goals, governance structures, revenue generation, and forest type. 2) Classify community forests in the U.S. based on their characteristics. 3) Identify direct and indirect monetary and non-monetary benefits and costs of community forests. 4) Understand community forest governance and management as an innovative approach for advancing rural opportunities and pathway to prosperity. 5) Identify potential community, forest, governance, and management characteristics that may be linked to positive social, economic, and ecological outcomes from community forests. 6) Disseminate insights about community forests to community and regional organizations, policy-makers, researchers, and other key stakeholders. The methods will follow the objectives above, using stakeholder involvement, reviewing and collecting data from secondary literature and sources, and conducting mixed-methods detailed comparative case studies of a stratified sample of community forests. We will conduct in-depth, comparative case studies in the east of approximately five community forests to explore if and how they foster innovative approaches for advancing socioeconomic opportunities for rural entrepreneurs and communities in the United States and the factors and conditions that support or impede these opportunities.
This research will continue to perform U.S. assessments of the Montreal Process for Sustainable Forest Management Criteria and Indicators (SFM C&I) for Criterion 7, the development of the legal, institutional, and economic framework for forest conservation and sustainable management. The research will establish a baseline characterization of community forests in the United States. This will begin with documenting and tallying a representative cross section of community forests in the U.S., including but not limited to all those funded through the USFS Community Forest program, by ownership, funding, management, key stakeholders, and other key characteristics. We will analyze the commonalities and differences in community forest definitions by federal, state, and local governments, civil society organizations, and private sector actors. Last, we will analyze tallied/documented community forests in terms of permitted types of land use, access, and benefits in line with property rights theorists (e.g., Schlager and Ostrom 1992; Ostrom and Hess 2007) to better understand the range in ownership and bundles of rights associated with community forests in the U.S.