Retaining and expanding our nation’s working forests, and the many economic, cultural, and ecological benefits that they provide our society, is the core of the Endowment’s mission. We tackle this issue in many ways, from supporting policy work at the national level through projects such as the Endowed Chair in Forest Economics and Policy at Resources for the Future, to regional alliances including the Partnership for Southern Forestland Conservation, to facilitating forest conservation through the National Conservation Easement Database. We are always looking for innovative ways to keep working forests working!
Several of the programs and projects operating under this initative are listed below.
The Partnership for Southern Forestland Conservation (the Partnership) is a coalition of more than 30 public and private organizations working to retain and increase large blocks of working forest in the South (www.pfsfc.org). A key goal of the Partnership is to work with Timber Investment Management Organizations (TIMOs) and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) to better understand partnership opportunities with these entities.
The National Conservation Easement Database (NCED) is the first comprehensive system for tracking and managing information on land protected by conservation easements. It displays a visual presentation of the location, size, and shape of easements across the country, which will greatly enhance strategic planning for conservation and development. This database will also dramatically improve accountability regarding easements on private land, all of which receive some form of public financial support (tax deductions or funds for purchase). More than 100,000 easements protecting nearly 20 million acres are currently in the system (January 2014).
Resources for the Future-Endowed Chair in Forest Economics and Policy
For more than 30 years, Resources for the Future (RFF) has retained at least one nationally-recognized scholar dedicated to forestry issues. As RFF restructures into “centers,” there is strong support for retaining a forestry focus. The Endowment is working with RFF to ensure that forestry will remain an important part of the organization’s future. The result is an RFF leadership commitment, with support from the program’s advisory board, to endow a Chair in Forest Economics and Policy to ensure a neutral voice in national resource policy debates. The Endowment has pledged $150,000 as a challenge grant toward establishment of the Chair.
Department of Defense Partnership
The Endowment helps administer the application process for the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Challenge Program. REPI is an excellent example of collaborative partnerships that work to protect forests and other working lands in the vicinity of military installations. The program’s ideals align with those of the Endowment and showcase the ecological, social, and economic benefits of the collaborative, cost-sharing partnership investment model. The REPI Challenge Program, part of the larger REPI program, awards up to $5 million in one or two grants. It seeks to incentivize new business practices that preserve compatible land uses and conserve natural landscapes in support of military readiness. The REPI Challenge puts a premium on harnessing the creativity of the private sector to access and leverage unconventional sources of funding, attract philanthropic support, and take advantage of market-based approaches to land and resource conservation.
State Forest/Wildlife Action Plan Collaboration
The goal of this project was to facilitate enhanced coordination between state Forestry and Wildlife/Natural Resource Agencies through their respective Action Plans. Congress mandated plans for both agencies – State Wildlife Action Plans and State Forest Action Plans – in separate legislation. Enhanced coordination would help avoid duplication of effort and improve on-the-ground program delivery. Read the final report from the Open Space Institute here.