About Maine's Healthy Forest Program
Beginning in 2012, the Maine Forest Service (MFS), along with Maine Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and Forest Resources Association (FRA), convened stakeholders to initiate a discussion of ways to increase active forest management by coastal and southern Maine woodland owners. Stakeholders include industry representatives, economic advisors, foresters, wildlife biologists, loggers, landowners, and researchers. Initially, the group met to learn more about the issue, discuss current research on family woodland owners, and to begin identifying potential recommendations for action.
According to MFS inventory data, total growth for all species currently exceeds harvest in Maine’s southernmost eight counties by a ratio of 2.5:1. The overall goal of this effort is to identify strategies that lead to increased active management on these woodlands. Success will include strategies to improve forest health, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, water quality, aesthetics and wood availability. Ultimately, this effort will increase family woodland owner enjoyment and support jobs and the state’s economy.
The team agreed that in order to be effective, we collectively must find ways to get more foresters on the ground; working with woodland owners primarily through face-to-face trainings and educational seminars, one-on-one with tours of demonstration woodlots, and on-site walk and talks. To enhance public perception of managed woodlands, partners will focus on positive messages delivered through continued presence in local newsprint, web pages, and social media.
The group has created an action plan to guide our work. Several identified priorities in that plan are either complete, or underway, including development of informational pamphlets for family woodland owners and Maine mills, secured funding to create a guide and training program for family woodland harvesting, and integrated messaging into existing programming. The effort is also moving forward with a harvest satisfaction survey to be delivered in conjunction with annual landowner reports.