Sustainable Communities and Economies
The western United States, with its wide- open expanses and rich natural beauty, is a highly desirable place to live and work. This high desirability has impacts on our forests and natural resources. The West has experienced significant population growth over the past 60 years, primarily due to in-migration into urban areas. This development is encroaching on forestlands and leading to fragmentation, parcelization, and higher management and wildfire protection costs in the wildland-urban interface.
Maintaining healthy forests provides jobs and other social and recreation benefits for communities. Our ability to manage western forests actively and sustainably affects people, communities, economies, and forest ecosystems. This task is becoming increasingly difficult in the face of development. Issues affecting sustainable forest management include legal authorities, regulations, financial resources (needed versus available), domestic and international markets, physical infrastructure, land use change, and social license to actively manage forests. Recommendations address these issues can be found in the WFLC Handout.
Opportunities for actions that span boundaries and support active forest management, vibrant urban and community forests, and a diverse forest products industry are significant, and there are many successes to build from.