2022 journal article

Ownership, Governance, Uses, and Ecosystem Services of Community Forests in the Eastern United States


By: M. Hovis *, G. Frey *, K. McGinley, F. Cubbage n , X. Han * & M. Lupek n

co-author countries: China πŸ‡¨πŸ‡³ United States of America πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
author keywords: community forests; Eastern United States; recreation; ecosystem services; governance; public participation
Source: ORCID
Added: October 1, 2022

Over time, community forests (CFs) have been established across the globe to meet various social, economic, and ecological needs. Benefits of CFs include conserving resilient forests and natural resources and ecosystem services, enhancing social and economic capital, and leveraging local and indigenous knowledge in forest and natural resource management and decision-making. Research on CFs in the U.S. is quite limited, and cases that have been assessed show a wide spectrum in terms of CF ownership, organizational structure, governance, property rights, and uses. Through an exploratory research approach, this study enhances the understanding of the characteristics of CFs in the U.S. and the ecosystem services and other benefits that they provide. Through online web searches, we compiled one of the first comprehensive lists of CFs in the Eastern U.S. Prior to this study, there was no publicly available comprehensive database or list of CFs in the country. Subsequently, we conducted comparative case study research, which included semi-structured in-person interviews with key stakeholders from four CFs in the Eastern U.S. to understand CF ownership, governance, uses, and benefits. CFs benefits frequently included cultural services, such as recreation and education, and regulating and supporting services, such as water quality and wildlife habitat. Much less common was a focus on provisioning services such as timber or non-timber forest products. Maintaining collaboration and funding for CF efforts in the long run without significant CF revenues remains a challenge for most forests. Overall, this research sheds lights on CF characteristics and capacities in the Eastern U.S. and identifies potential opportunities and needs for the U.S. in the future. CFs researchers, managers, and community members.