State Policies Regarding Private Forest Practices


Give guidance to all stakeholders when considering reforms or updates to private forest practices policies.


To address forest practice policies on private lands, including existing or proposed regulatory systems, which vary widely from state to state.


The Society of American Foresters supports private lands policy approaches that are thoughtful, flexible, and science-based, and that help landowners achieve their objectives while maintaining environmental quality, sustainability, and ecosystem services. Policies exist on a broad spectrum, from education and training, subsidies and market-based initiatives, to command-and-control regulation (Bocher 2012). SAF encourages state policy makers to consider effective approaches that incentivize good stewardship and allow landowners to both maintain ownership and to achieve their diverse objectives (Butler et al. 2016). Generally, non-regulatory approaches (e.g., Best Management Practices) have been found to be effective in achieving private forest practice stewardship objectives (Cristan et al. 2016) and SAF recommends that these approaches remain in place. States with regulatory approaches, or those considering regulatory approaches, should consult with foresters and forest landowners regarding the design of such regulations, and include any necessary enforcement and landowner assistance elements in order to both protect environmental quality and promote sound forest stewardship. All forest practices policies should incorporate best available science, promote sustainable forest management, be balanced with a respect for private landowner rights, include mechanisms for adaptive management (particularly effectiveness monitoring), and treat forest management equitably in consideration of other land use activities, such as agriculture and development. SAF recommends the following criteria to guide the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies regarding private forest practices: Policies should: (1) have a knowledge based and transparent design; (2) ensure that forests are managed sustainably but allow for flexibility; and (3) be achievable and consistent.

Approved: April 2019 

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