February 16, 2011
Well-managed forests are the cornerstone of America’s great outdoors,
and the American Forest Foundation (AFF) is pleased with the AGO
report’s emphasis on promoting working forests through better
partnerships and incentives.
“Family forests are fundamental to America’s great landscapes, and family forest owners are at the center of our nation’s natural heritage. Though the America’s Great Outdoors report publicizes President Obama’s efforts to protect America’s woodlands, there is still much to do to help private landowners,” Tom Martin, President and CEO at the American Forest Foundation, said today.
“Easements and acquisitions, both emphasized in the AGO report, are important tools for forest conservation, but they are not the only tool needed. The report also calls for better use of other conservation tools such as farm bill conservation programs. Some 58 million acres of forested land are threatened by pests and invasive species; an easement on a forest chewed up by pests or lost to catastrophic fire isn’t a solution to protecting America’s great outdoors,” said Martin, who was present at the White House as Obama delivered his remarks.
An estimated 10 million family forest owners own 264 million acres—or 35 percent—of all forestland in the United States. Private, family-owned woodlands provide essential benefits such as clean water, wildlife habitat, carbon storage and recreation to millions of citizens.
The AGO report also points to the tremendous economic and job-creating benefits of working forests, which support more than 1 million good paying jobs and produce more than $175 billion in products each year.
“Today’s release of the AGO report is the first step in a national, grassroots conservation effort that will help protect forestland for future generations. In moving forward, the American Forest Foundation encourages the Obama administration to consider a broad range of market-oriented tools, tax incentives, and investments to truly conserve America’s family-owned forests,” Martin said.
AFF works nationwide and in partnership with local, state and national groups to provide hands-on support for America’s 10 million family forest owners, giving them the tools they need to manage healthy and sustainable woodlands.
To grow the next generation of leaders ready to inherit America’s natural legacy, AFF works with tens of thousands of teachers each year through its Project Learning Tree (PLT) program. In an era where children are becoming increasingly disconnected from the great outdoors, PLT has helped 75 million students learn how to think, not what to think, about complex environmental issues.
President Obama established the America’s Great Outdoors initiative exactly 10 months ago on April 16, 2010. Obama charged the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality to develop a conservation and recreation strategy based on the priorities of the American people.