Privately owned tree farms and plantations share many characteristics of natural forests, multiple purpose forests, and fiber plantations. Tree farms and plantations are managed primarily for the sustainable production of solid wood and fiber; however, they increasingly play an important role in protecting all forest values. This rapidly changing role poses a challenge to forest managers -- to increase productivity to meet spiraling worldwide demand while satisfying public expectations for preserving and enhancing a full range of forest resources.
These heightened expectations are prompting tree farm and plantation managers to modify proven management regimes in order to protect water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, soil productivity, and aesthetics. Proactive measures, such as establishing goals for each stewardship objective, defining measurement criteria, and third-party endorsement or certification, are helping forest managers identify and address improvement opportunities. Each of these stewardship objectives, though, can imply trade-offs in terms of yield and utilization, thus reducing the economic attractiveness of the forestry investment.
In this period of rapid change, one effective strategy is to engage the public in the front end of the forest planning process. By listening and responding to public concerns, establishing common values, and allowing the public to judge us by our actions, we can begin to create awareness and trust. Only then will we attain the stable regulatory platform that is imperative for making long-term forestry investments and implementing science-based mechanisms for meaningful ecosystem enhancement.
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