Encouraging sustainable forestry through resource and financial stewardship

Date: 

2008

Summary: 

Forest owners, foresters, tax preparers, and Cornell University undergraduates participated in a broad-based initiative to increase their awareness and knowledge of issues that improve their financial opportunities while conserving the long-term productivity of their forests.

Issue: 

The forests of New York dominate the landscape and are critical to the stability of the forest industry. Forest lands are also critical for the sustainability of community values and amenities. Two key areas are the sustainable production of private forest lands and the financial management of revenue associated with those lands. Sustainable production hinges on landowners being aware of resources to help them make decisions and understanding the consequences of making the correct decision. Two key issues addressed by this program include increasing land owner awareness for assistance and strategies to manage vegetation to achieve landowner objectives. Financial management requires knowledge of legal structures to permit business status for owners and the correct reporting procedures to minimize financial output in taxes following timber harvests. Failure to help forest owners make good decisions will reduce the quality and abundance of values available from the private forests of New York. Failing to track financial considerations reduces a landowner's options to minimize their legal tax obligation which results in over payment of federal income tax.

Response: 

Cornell University's ForestConnect program has deliberately and strategically integrated applied research and extension, including multiple partners, to increase the awareness and sustainable practices among various audiences. Through webinars we reach hundreds of owners and practitioners who own or manage more than 150,000 acres of forest land and representing dozens of states. More than 1100 potential participants controlling more than 4,000,000 acres exist in the database receiving monthly announcements. An average of 90 stakeholders participated in monthly conferences. ForestConnect personnel have been involved with structured and customized training on the use of web conference technology to deliver extension education. The Regional Forestry Initiative provides support to three clusters of county CCE associations to provide enhanced educational programs to forest land owners. The sugarbush thinning project utilized a statewide network of research collaborators to demonstrate the positive effects of deliberate and careful management to improve the health and productivity of sugar maple trees for sap and syrup. More than twenty articles were provided for partner publications that serve NY's forest owners and maple producers. The use of organic and chemical controls for invasive and undesirable forest plants was initiated through an integrated research and extension project. The organic use of flame weeding and the restrictive use of herbicides have been initiated in a new statewide network of research plots with collaborators. Multiple presentations on invasive plants were provided to target audiences.

Impact: 

ForestConnect's educational and applied research programs on sustainable forestry reached almost 56,000 forest owners who own or manage more than 3.8 million acres of forest land. Importantly, these efforts have targeted moderate- to large-sized land owners who control the majority of the land and who would be most likely to implement forestry practices that aren't sustainable. The program has maintained an active network of approximately 15 county extension educators through in-service trainings that provide opportunities for program sharing and access to resources generated on campus and in other counties. County educators annually reach 100's to 1000's of forest owners. The Internet forestry seminar series includes a database of more than 1200 potential participants, representing more than 40 states and three countries. Participants own or manage in excess of 4 million acres of forest land. ForestConnect personnel provide the majority of content for a partner's publication, the New York Forest Owner magazine, which reaches approximately 2000 people each month who collectively own more than 300,000 acres. Based on a series of CUCE fact sheets, NYFOA developed podcasts for distribution to forest owners. As many as 30% of webinar participants indicated they had never participated in an in-person forestry workshop. Participants indicated that they typically increased their awareness and skill by 75% and 55% as a result of the web conferences. Four other states have been supported in the development of similar programming. Applied research plots were established, maintained, or monitored throughout the state with more than 20 collaborators. Research collaborators participated in approximately 10 extension workshops.

Submitted by: 

  • Sullivan, Kristi L

Researchers involved: 

  • Sullivan, Kristi L
  • Goff, Gary R
  • Allred, Shorna B

International focus: 

  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Vermont