In the United States, there are towns and cities that own forests. These community forests, or town forests as they were more likely to be called in New England, were established during the first half of the 20th century, during what has been called the Town Forest Movement. Around the turn of the century, states began to pass laws enabling town and cities, and in some cases smaller entities such as schools and churches, to own forests. Forestry--the production of timber--was the motivating factor behind the Town Forest Movement, although there were many other implications of community ownership of forests, as characterized in this quote from "The Forestry Primer", published in 1949:

Now, the people of these towns own these forests themselves...

There is the community's opportunity. It can set this land to work, plant trees upon it, protect it as it grows, use it as a sanctuary for wild life, make it a place to rest, and finally, draw upon it for a supply of wood for the common good and prosperity. In Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, and in a few other states, communities are awakening to this opportunity. As the word spreads, more will join, until the citizen of one community will say to the citizen of another, "Have you a little forest in your town?"

The notion of community forests began to receive attention around the same time as state forests, while the national forest system had already been established a couple of decades earlier. The U.S. government successfully established a system of national forests. Many state governments likewise created an expansive system of state forests. So why do we need community forests? Community forests have a definite function that differs from that of national and state forests.

Community Forests:


Eras in the Development of Community Forests


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Community Forests

Much Ado About Forestry | A Campaign of Enlightenment | Put Your Town on the Map


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This site was created by
Aileen Bellwood
31 July 1998