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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project
(2023)

Community Forest Management to Promote Ecosystem Services and Rural Economies

green pine forest with a river running in between the trees

Group Members: Andrea Cornelius, Cristina Mancilla, Hollie Pennington, Sachi Shiroma, Anusha Sridhara

Faculty Advisors: Andrew Plantinga

Client: Wallowa Resources

Deliverables:

Proposal

Description

Community Forest Management (CFM) is the use, management, and conservation of forests by local communities rather than by private corporations, investors, or governments. Although there have been substantial efforts to develop CFM practices in low-income countries, the same attention has not been given to forests in the United States. This study analyzes the feasibility of community management of forestlands in Wallowa County, Oregon, where forest ownership is fragmented among various timber investment management organizations (TIMOs). Stability in forest ownership through CFM would ensure the sustainable provision of ecosystem services essential to the community. Our study will estimate the increase in ecosystem services, in physical and monetary terms, attributable to CFM, together with an assessment of the employment opportunities this creates. We will consider funding options which match program requirements or investment objectives (e.g., financial returns, environmental gains) to the ecosystem services produced by CFM. In planning for community forest management, we will consult with local stakeholders to meet the dual goals of conservation and economic growth. We will use InVEST and other modeling tools to locate priority areas for community forest management based on which ecosystem services can leverage the most financial support. This study will provide a framework for how to proceed with financing forest land acquisition in other rural resource-based communities. We will also work with Wallowa Resources to expand their youth stewardship education programs to include topics critical to land management, such as indigenous history, environmental science, and land politics. 

Client Contact: Nils Christoffersen

PhD Mentor: Nathan Grimes

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