Establishing Roots: Recommendations for Land Trusts' Role in Community Forestry

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Community forests ensure that community members actively participate in land management decisions and have secure access to economic and non-economic benefits of forestland. The community forest movement in the United States has been growing for the past thirty years. Currently, only a small handful of land trusts are deeply involved in the movement. There may be opportunity for this to change as land trusts are looking to employ new, innovative, community based tools of land conservation. Community forests could act as one of these new conservation tools. Through case studies and semi-structured interviews this study analyzes the current state of land trusts' involvement in community forestry. Through formal surveys, this study then assesses land trust professionals and community member’s perspectives on the role land trusts should play in future community forest projects. Interviews and surveys were analyzed with NVivo 10 software. Case study analysis shows that community forests range in size from 62 to 27,080 acres and the majority are located in the Northeast. Results of the survey show that both land trust professionals and community members are interested in pursuing community forest projects. These two groups would most like to see land trusts facilitate land transactions for municipalities looking to acquire and manage community forests. Land trust professionals and community members disagreed on the other roles land trusts should play in community forest projects. Land trust practitioners identified funding and staff capacity as the biggest challenges to land trusts involvement in community forestry. Land trust practitioners identified an increase in the number of people connected to land and an increase in the amount of land conserved as the biggest successes. The majority of land trust practitioners and community members agreed they would like communities to receive both recreational and economic benefits from sustainable forestry on a potential community forest. This study has implications for land trusts future involvement in community forestry and thus recommendations are given to Triangle Land Conservancy, a local North Carolina land trust.





Cook, Betsy (2014). Establishing Roots: Recommendations for Land Trusts' Role in Community Forestry. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.