This new coalition is advancing community forests in the Northwest
by Ben Dair
The Northwest Community Forest Coalition is a newly formed group focused on supporting the emergence, development, and management of community forests in the Pacific Northwest. Sustainable Northwest is supporting the coalition with administration and financial management. Formed in May 2015 following the 2nd Annual Community Forest Forum, the coalition is made up of practitioners and experts representing community-based organizations, land trusts, counties and jurisdictions, private corporations, and regional and national non-profit organizations.
The coalition was created in response to the growing pressure on Northwest forests from increasing population, fragmentation, human development, and climate-related disturbances. The participants are motivated to collaborate around their shared vision that “long-term, secure community control and tenure of local forests leads to enhanced stewardship and multiple public benefits.” This community forest model is essential to stemming the tide of forest loss, fragmentation, and degradation, while supporting an array of ecological services and providing fuel, fiber, jobs, and recreation to surrounding communities.
Led by an active steering committee of dedicated partners, this newly formalized network will provide much-needed capacity to the growing community forest movement. The steering committee appointed an executive committee that meets bi-weekly and is made up of the following four members: Jay McLaughlin, Mt. Adams Resource Stewards, as chair; Cherie Kearney, Columbia Land Trust, as Vice Chair; Brent Davies, Ecotrust, as Treasurer; and Andrew Spaeth, Sustainable Northwest, as administrator. This coalition serves to connect existing and potential community forest managers with technical and financial resources; facilitate sharing of strategies and lessons learned in the field; encourage collaboration between funders, researchers, policy-makers, and landowners; and educate the public about the wealth of benefits community forests can provide.