By managing your forest, you can protect water quality, increase habitat diversity for wildlife and increase the growth rate of your trees.
Forest Stewardship Program
Approximately 7 million acres of private forestland exist in Colorado. Like all natural resources, forests require proper management to be healthy and productive.
In addition, properly managed forests can provide income, reduce the risk of wildland fire, help protect trees against insects and diseases, and even increase the value of your property.
Learn more in Colorado’s Forest Stewardship Program Brochure (458 KB PDF)
NASF Stewardship Principles
Because forests are living and everchanging, stewardship is always a work in progress; the sooner begun, the more regularly tended, the better the results. The first step is to lay the groundwork with sound principles.
Contribute to the conservation and biological diversity of the forest and the surrounding landscape
Like all forests, yours includes both trees and other plant life such as shrubs, ground cover and even mosses and algae in your shady places or around your seeps and springs. Your forest is also a habitat for resident and migrating animals, including game and non-game, and even for the insects in your soil and water.
Your forest’s community of plants and animals (referred to as biodiversity) is part of a broader mix of communities across your surrounding landscape (or watershed), like a patch in a quilt.
Maintain and improve productive capacity
Like most forests, yours could provide income from timber sales, as well as a broad range of other goods and services, such as habitat leasable to local hunting clubs, mushroom gatherers, or trail enthusiasts. But productivity also includes such nonmarket services as stormwater filtration for your local watershed, the nesting cavities and insects offered to songbirds by a snag (standing dead tree), and even your success in preventing the establishment of invasive species, such as kudzu, emerald ash borer or cogongrass.
On a broader scale, your forest’s productivity also contributes to the local potential to attract and sustain economic investment. Be it a lumber or paper mill, trail networks, clean and productive waters or tourism for bird-watching, investments such as these sustain your local community as well as the regional economy.
Maintain and improve the health and vigor of the forest and its landscape/watershed
The life cycles of your forest’s plants and animals ebb and flow with age and climate, as well as with the cycles of natural risks such as storms, insect invasions, wildfire, drought and even with similar events on adjacent lands and watersheds.
The degree of your forest’s potential to influence and be influenced by the health and vigor of its surrounding landscape varies with its history and general condition, e.g., mix of species and ages.
Protect soil and water resources
Your forest plays an important role in the fertility of its own soils (through such dynamics as leaf/needle-fall and its contribution to topsoil health), as well as the health and vigor of the food web of plants and animals that rely on that topsoil.
Your forest’s role as a filter is critically important for both your own and your neighbor’s land in your watershed. The filtering is achieved by forest litter, which catches water-borne sediment; by the cushion of foliage, which softens the impact of storm-driven rain; and by the sponge effect, which catches stormwater for gentle release over time.
Pursue carbon-friendly management and also promote biomass as a renewable energy source
The release of greenhouse gases is an ongoing contributor to global warming. Research shows that this release can be significantly countered by a forest’s use of carbon for growth and energy storage (called carbon sequestration). This stored carbon—quantified as “carbon credits”—is now a commodity that is traded on the Chicago Climate Exchange and a growing range of other markets.
Carbon credits from managed forests can provide income to some forest landowners who meet certain requirements.
Biomass (all forest-related organic matter, living or dead) can be used to create thermal, electric, and liquid energy products. Biomass harvested from sustainably managed forests is considered “carbon neutral,” that is, the carbon that is emitted from the combustion or other use of biomass is offset through carbon captured in new forest growth.
Consider socioeconomic benefits for local communities and economies
In meeting your personal goals, consider also how your forest contributes to your community’s economy and quality of life through such factors as providing local payrolls, supporting the local tax base and attracting related investment. Consider also such complementary elements as forest-based cultures, traditions and sense of well-being.
Comply with laws, rules and guidelines
As with all forests, yours not only serves your personal goals but is also subject to laws and guidelines designed to serve your community and the nation at large. Therefore, it is in your best interest to abide by them, not only to avoid legal consequences but also to be a good neighbor and to help achieve the goals such laws and regulations serve, including such benefits as clean water, public safety and protection of rare plants or animals.
Your forest’s potential to be influenced by certain laws and regulations typically has little to do with its size, but often a lot to do with its location and its past management. Even in those states not using a regulatory approach, the opportunity to voluntarily serve the common good lies at the heart of being a good forest steward.
National Association of State Foresters
NASF is a non-profit organization that represents the directors of forestry agencies from the fifty states, eight U.S. territories and associated states, and the District of Columbia.