Small-scale Forestry

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 191–210 | Cite as

A Community Forestry Model Linking Research, Management, Education, and Stakeholder Engagement: Case Study Results from the Town of Weston, Massachusetts, USA

  • Aaron B. LeflandEmail author
  • Emily S. Huff
  • Brian Donahue
Research Paper


Forested land in the eastern United States is owned by a complex mix of public and private owners, often with highly varied objectives and uses. There is an increasing trend at local scales of community forestry programs that use community-based decision making to determine what type of management will occur on town-owned forests. Within the suburban town of Weston, Massachusetts, this type of coordinated approach has been ongoing for nearly 4 decades. This article describes the integration of forest ecology and management research, including a forest inventory and long-term monitoring program, to educate townspeople about their forests, engage students in ecological research, and provide data that the town can use to make informed management decisions. This article presents a novel model for a research-based community forestry program, results from the first inventory and plot measurement period, and describes how other towns can use this type of program to supplement existing active forest management, or provide a baseline for future management. Results are applicable to municipalities that own forest land, as well as land trusts or other private entities that wish to manage their forests using a community based forestry model.


Community-based forestry Long-term monitoring Adaptive management Citizen science Environmental education Wildlands and Woodlands 



We would like to thank Brandeis University and the Harvard Forest for institutional support during the research process. This work was made possible by a grant from the Baker Foundation and support from Highstead. We would like to thank members of the 2010 and 2012 Environmental Field Semesters at Brandeis University for assistance with field work, and the staff of Land’s Sake for their continued work to sustainably manage Weston’s forests. Finally, we would like to thank Michele Grzenda and members of the Weston Conservation Commission for their continued engagement in forestry and research in Weston.


  1. Adlard P (2004) The cost of small-woodlot management. Q J For 98:59–63Google Scholar
  2. Anderson N, Horter W (2002) Connecting lands and people: community forests in British Columbia. Dogwood Initiative, VictoriaGoogle Scholar
  3. Baker M, Kusel J (2013) Community forestry in the United States: learning from the past, crafting the future. Island Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  4. Ballard HL, Fernandez-Gimenez ME, Sturtevant VE (2008) Integration of local ecological knowledge and conventional science: a study of seven community based forestry organizations in the USA. Ecol Soc 13(2):37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beckly T (1998) A comparison of industrial, co-managed, community and small private forests in Canada. For Chron 74:736–744CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bliss J, Aplet G, Hartzell C, Harwood P, Jahnige P, Kittredge D, Lewandowski S, Soscia ML (2001) Community based ecosystem monitoring. J Sustain For 12:143–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brendler T, Carey H (1998) Community forestry, defined. J For 96:21–23Google Scholar
  8. Brown B (2001) Integrating forest labor participation into community-based ecosystem management processes. In: Gray G, Enzer M, Kusel J (eds) Understanding community based forest ecosystem management. Haworth Press, Binghamton, pp 291–304Google Scholar
  9. Bullock R, Hanna K, Slocombe D (2009) Learning from community forestry experience: challenges and lessons from British Columbia. For Chron 85:293–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Charnley S, Poe M (2007) Community forestry in theory and practice: where are we now? Annu Rev Anthropol 36:301–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Charnley S, Diaz D, Gosnell H (2010) Mitigating climate change though small-scale forestry in the USA: opportunities and challenges. Small scale For 9:445–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cooper CB, Dickinson J, Phillips T, Bonney R (2007) Citizen science as a tool for conservation in residential ecosystems. Ecol Soc 12(2):11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Danks CM (2009) Benefits of community-based forestry in the US: lessons from a demonstration programme. Int For Rev 11:171–185Google Scholar
  14. Dickinson J, Zuckerberg B, Bonter D (2010) Citizen science as an ecological research tool: challenges and benefits. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 41:149–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Donahue B (1999) Reclaiming the commons: community farms and forests in a New England town. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  16. Donahue B (2000) History, work, and the nature of beauty: a Massachusetts community forest. J For 98:36–51Google Scholar
  17. Duinker P, Matakala P, Zhang D (1991) Community forestry and its implications for Northern Ontario. For Chron 67:131–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Faison F, Orwig D, Foster D, Silver E, Hall B, Donahue B, Barker-Plotkin A (2014) Wildlands and woodlands stewardship science: manual for long term forest monitoring. Highstead Foundation and Harvard Forest. Accessed 25 May 2017
  19. Fernandez-Gimenez ME, Ballard HL, Sturtevant VE (2008) Adaptive management and social learning in collaborative and community-based monitoring: a study of five community-based forestry organizations in the western USA. Ecol Soc 13(2):4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Flint CG, Luloff AE, Finley JC (2008) Where is the “community” in community-based forestry? Soc Nat Resour 21:526–537CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Foster D, Donahue M, Kittredge D, Lambert K, Hunter M, Hall B, Irland L, Lilieholm R, Orwig D, D’Amato A, Colburn E, Thompson J, Levitt J, Ellison A, Keeton W, Aber J, Cogbill C, Driscoll C, Fahey T, Hart C (2010) Wildlands and woodlands: a vision for the New England landscape. Harvard Forest, PetershamGoogle Scholar
  22. Foster D, Orwig D, Faison E, Silver E, Hall B, Donahue B, Motzkin G, Thompson J, D’Amato A, Boose E, Pallant J, Kelty M, Van de Poll R (2014) Wildlands and woodlands science: long-term forest measurements for ecological and conservation insight. Harvard Forest and Highstead Foundation, Petersham and West ReddingGoogle Scholar
  23. Fox PW (2002) Farm town to suburb: the history and architecture of Weston, Massachusetts, 1830–1980. Peter E. Randall, PortsmouthGoogle Scholar
  24. Glasmeier A, Farrigan T (2005) Understanding community forestry: a qualitative meta-study of the concept, the process, and its potential for poverty alleviation in the United States. Geogr J 171:56–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gray GJ, Enzer MJ, Kusel J (2001) Understanding community-based forest ecosystem management. J Sustain For 12:1–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gray GJ, Fisher L, Jungwirth L (2008) An introduction to community-based ecosystem management. J Sustain For 12:25–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Guatam A, Webb E, Eiumnoh A (2002) GIS Assessment of land use/land cover changes associated with community forestry implementation in the Middle Hills of Nepal. Mt Res Dev 22:63–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Harrison S, Herbohn J, Niskanen A (2002) Non-industrial, smallholder, small-scale and family forestry: what’s in a name? Small scale For Econ Manag Policy 1:1–11Google Scholar
  29. Kobori H, Dickinson J, Washitani I, Sakurai R, Amano T, Komatsu N, Kitamura W, Takagawa S, Koyama K, Ogawara T, Miller-Rushing A (2015) Citizen science: a new approach to advance ecology, education, and conservation. Ecol Res 31:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Konijnendijk CC, Ricard RM, Kenney A, Randrup TB (2006) Defining urban forestry—a comparative perspective of North America and Europe. Urb For Urb Green. 4:93–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Krott M, Bader A, Schusser C, Devkota R, Maryudi A, Giessen L, Aurenhammer H (2014) Actor-centred power: the driving force in decentralised community based forest governance. For Policy Econ 49:34–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kuser J (2007) Urban and community forestry in the northeast. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Larson AJ, Belote RT, Williamson MA, Aplet GH (2013) Making monitoring count: project design for active adaptive management. J For 11:348–356Google Scholar
  34. Lyman MW (2007) Community forests a community investment strategy. Report by the Community Forest CollaborativeGoogle Scholar
  35. Lyman MW, Danks C, McDonough M (2013) New England’s community forests: comparing regional model to ICCAs. Conserv Soc 11:46–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lyman MW, Grimm C, Evans JR (2014) Community forests as a wealth creation strategy for rural communities. Community Dev 45:474–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Martinez AM, Alsop S (2014) Climate change and citizen science: early reflections on long-term ecological monitoring projects in Southern Ontario. In: Bencze L, Alsop S (eds) Activist science and technology education. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 477–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McKinley D, Miller-Rushing A, Ballard H, Bonney R, Brown H, Evans D, French R, Parrish J, Phillips T, Ryan S, Shanley L, Shirk J, Stepenuck K, Weltzin J, Wiggins A, Boyle O, Briggs R, Chapin S, Hewitt D, Preuss W, Soukup M (2015) Investing in citizen science can improve natural resource management and environmental protection. Issues Ecol 19:1–28Google Scholar
  39. Molden O, Abrams J, Davis EJ, Moseley C (2017) Beyond localism: the micropolitics of local legitimacy in a community-based organization. J Rural Stud 50:60–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Newman DH, Wear DN (1993) Production economics of private forestry: a comparison of industrial and nonindustrial forest owners. Am J Agric Econ 75:674–684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Northern Forest Center (2017) Community forests overview. Accessed 12 Feb 2017
  42. Nyberg B (1999) An introductory guide to adaptive management for project leaders and participants. Forest Practices Branch, British Columbia Forest Service, VictoriaGoogle Scholar
  43. R Core Team (2014) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna. Accessed 16 Aug 2016
  44. Roman LA, Scharenbroch BC, Östberg JPA et al (2017) Data quality in citizen science urban tree inventories. Urb For Urb Green 22:124–135. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schaff KA, Ross-Davis AL, Broussard SR (2006) Exploring the dimensionality and social bases of the public’s timber harvesting attitudes. Landsc Urb Plan 78:135–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Shindler B, Cramer LA (1999) Shifting public values for forest management: making sense of wicked problems. West J Appl For 14:28–37Google Scholar
  47. Silvertown J (2009) A new dawn for citizen science. Trends Ecol Evolut 24:467–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Stout SL, Royo AA, McAleese K, Finley JC (2013) The Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative: can adaptive management and local stakeholder engagement sustain reduced impact of ungulate browsers in forest systems? Boreal Environ Res 18:50–64Google Scholar
  49. Sudbury Valley Trustees (2017) Desert natural area pitch pine-scrub oak barrens habitat restoration. Accessed 15 Mar 2017
  50. Teitelbaum S (2013) Criteria and indicators for the assessment of community forestry outcomes: a comparative analysis from Canada. J Environ Manag 132:257–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wollenberg E, Anderson J, Edmunds D (2001) Pluralism and the less powerful: accommodating multiple interests in local forest management. Int J Agric Resourc Gov Ecol 1(3–4):199–222Google Scholar
  52. Zoellick B, Nelson S, Schauffer M (2012) Participatory science and education: bringing both views into focus. Front Ecol Environ 10:310–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Steve Harrison, John Herbohn 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aaron B. Lefland
    • 1
    Email author
  • Emily S. Huff
    • 2
  • Brian Donahue
    • 3
  1. 1.Yale School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Department of ForestryMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.American Environmental StudiesBrandeis UniversityWalthamUSA

Personalised recommendations