The Trust for Public Land is a national leader in the growing community forest movement, which started in New England twenty years ago and has since spread across the United States.

The Power of Community Forests

Community forests are becoming a powerful tool for residents to protect resources and locally manage forested landscapes. As a source of timber-related jobs and income derived from outdoor recreation, these forests help strengthen local economies. They also preserve open space while inspiring community engagement and collaboration, as people work together to identify and achieve shared conservation goals.

What We’ve Achieved

We have worked closely with towns and nonprofit groups from New Hampshire to Wisconsin to Oregon, helping create community forests that reflect local values and fulfill residents’ vision for the future.

Since 2001, we have established or expanded 30 community forests, totaling more than 30,000 acres. We were also a founding member of the Community Forest Collaborative, which successfully advocated for federal funding to support community forests. Established in 2014, the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program has been a critical resource for towns interested in gaining control of their forests.

What’s at Stake

As the effects of climate change are felt more acutely, community forests can make rural areas more resilient, while sequestering the carbon dioxide responsible global warming.

By 2060, New England is projected to lose 1.2 million acres of forest, along with 19 percent of its carbon-storage capacity. A 2017 study by Harvard Forest, a research center at Harvard University, found that 65 acres of forest in New England were disappearing daily.

Protection of our forested landscapes is one the best strategies we have to save this precious resource and combat climate change.