The Great American Forest, since our nation s founding, has provided the resources to build ourhomes, our schools, our churches--it has provided the inspiration for our philosophers, our poets, our artists.
Working together we can continue to improve, enhance and protect this great natural resource tohelp insure that we have healthy forests with clean water, clean air, abundant wildlife, wilderness, and working forests in harmony with the needs of all Americans and for the generations yet to come.
The 21st century American Forest will evolve from the remarkable legacy of the 20th century and continue to be as diverse as America itself. Forests will be places combining sustainable social communities and healthy, productive natural resources. The view from the forest will be long, assuring future generations the vast benefits provided by forests. American Forests will significantly enhance the quality of life for all Americans--urban and rural, rich and poor, young and old.
The guiding principles of forest management will be sustainability, integration, and collaboration. The fundamental differences between private and public forests will be respected, as both contribute to overall management objectives.
Forests will be providers of clean air and abundant water, biological diversity, wildlife, spiritual and aesthetic comfort, and rejuvenation, and an array of economic benefits and wood products. Federal, tribal, state, and local governments, private landowners, citizens, industry, and environmental organizations will work together as advocates for the forest to create and implement policy. These policies will be based on incentives and assistance, sound science, and a knowledgeable and involved public.
In the 21st century, the NationŐs forests will be known and treasured by all citizens, and will symbolize the goodness of the American spirit, ingenuity, and common purpose.
America s forests will be managed to ensure long-term environmental and economic sustainability. This means a forested landscape that supports the full range of human uses, from fiber production to recreation to wilderness, without significant disruption of natural ecosystem composition, structure or function. The vision will be accomplished by:
These concerns were focused broadly on forest resources, regardless of ownership or location, including forests in other global regions. Although not fully formed into principles in the sense we hope to see them from the local roundtables and Congress, the following ideas were proposed by the Nebraska group as a whole:
The principles should apply to all components of forest ecosystems, including the connections with other ecosystems. This was both an endorsement of basing forest management on sound ecological science, but also of a systems or holistic perspective that actively looks for how phenomena are connected in both social and natural ways.
Sustainablility is a value of importance in evaluating both forest and human communities. This principle reflects the value of sustainability rather than the scientific measures that may be used to measure progress toward the value.
Policy must be flexible and adaptive; one specific size does not fit all applications. This priinciple reflects the lessons learned in writing laws and regulations at a national scale where state and local solutions would be better.
Reconciliation is needed among conflicting laws and regulations. Some laws are clearly in conflict; more commonly and critically, the administrative and case law interpretations of legislation often lead to conflicts in practice. Some overarching legislation may be needed that brings the laws and their application into balance as well as eliminate direct conflicts.
Policy should facilitate--not exacerbate--cross boundary concerns (legal, political, ecological), and it should reduce uncertainty, not increase it. Current laws often make reconciliation among property rights and political entities more difficult, and the resulting uncertainty makes private responsibility and investment in conservation and sustainability less likely.
Policy should be directed toward developing trust among ownership groups and consumers or citizens. The inherent tension between legal protagonists can be exacerbated or reduced by policy; clearly the Nebraska group favored policy changes aimed at reducing the tension and encouraging trusting relationships.
Current opportunities for collaboration should be promoted. Many examples were cited of positive collaboration between commodity, environmental, and community groups. Policy shifts can make such collaborations easier to develop, endorse, and enforce.
The common vision, values, and principles must be relevant to all citizens. While diverse, the Nebraska group clearly recognized the need for forest policy and managment to serve the nation s increasingly urban and suburban populations, minorities and the poor, both urban and rural.
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