A forestry summit to address "Sustaining America's Forests: The Role of Research, Education and Extension" was held in Washington, D.C., February 21-22. The focus was on non-Federal U.S. forest lands, of which 59 percent are privately-owned by approximately 10 million landowners. The conference was sponsored by the National Association of Professional Forestry Schools and Colleges and the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.
The reasons for the conference related to an increased focus on sustainable forest management and changes in federal land management policy, such as decreased harvesting in federal forests. With less timber being supplied from federal forest lands, there is a need for the non-federal forest lands, primarily privately-owned forest lands, to meet the demand. Issues such as forest fragmentation through inheritance and urbanization, rural development and other environmental challenges are contributing to an increased need to focus on the future of non-federal forests. This also means that more resources for research and information services need to be earmarked for this group.
The summit's task was to identify ways of improving the quantity, quality and timeliness of information about non-Federal forests and enhancing access to information for landowners and managers. Who is in a better position to take this on than state universities and local agencies, who are already working with landowners and are familiar with the problems? Getting these groups together may have a major influence on whether money is shifted and more is made available for research, education and information for the private forest landowner.