Family Forests Alliance Outlines National Strategy

Outcomes of 2009 National Gathering Grow Capacity and Plans for Coordinated Expansion


(New Gloucester, Maine) – Partners, supporters and organizers of the FSC Family Forests Alliance met in Flat Rock, North Carolina from November 4-6, 2009 to analyze developments in U.S. family forest certification and to deliberate plans for expanding and coordinating national efforts to provide improved access to FSC certification and related services to family forestland owners.


“The conversations that come out of these gatherings make it clear that there is still a lot of work to do in involving family forest owners in management and certification of their lands – and that there is a lot of energy to work on these issues. It’s fantastic that these Alliance gatherings are valuable to partners, because their input is the centerpiece of setting the course for Alliance initiatives,” said Kate Albert Read, Alliance Secretariat.


The first Alliance national gathering took place at the Johnson Foundation’s Wingspread Conference Center in Racine, Wisconsin in 2007, and it set the initial work plan. Alliance core organizers met in Portland, Maine in 2008 to formalize the Alliance’s procedures and to write the 2009 work plan, with feedback and input from partners.  This year’s meeting was made possible with support from Domtar, Inc.


The gathering opened with updates and presentations on standard development, an overview of the procurement landscape for FSC certified products, results of the Alliance’s survey of FSC Forest Management certificate holders in the U.S., tools for group certificate management and engaging smaller forestland owners in forest management, the role of point-of-harvest certification in family forest certification, and case studies in new certification incentives, including payments for ecosystem services.


“The Alliance serves as a forum for diverse stakeholder and geographic experience with creating opportunities for forest smallholders to gain a foothold in the FSC framework and markets.  While many areas are beginning to feel growing demand for certified products, building that pull is still a challenge in this region, and this gathering was an important chance to put that need on the map as part of a larger national strategy,” said Alyx Perry of the Southern Forests Network.


The second phase of the meeting involved all partners in identifying top issues and drafting a work plan for 2010. Some of the key issues identified were: expanding family forest and group certification to new geographies, targeting early success regions for piloting ecosystem service payments and other additional benefits, facilitating group management through templating management and monitoring requirements, networking group managers and providing more tools, and continuing to foster demand for FSC certified products. The first priority for 2010 will be to support Alliance and FSC Family Forest Program capacity through a collaborative work plan and establishment of a jointly advised leadership position.


“The core organizers who initiated the Alliance have done a great deal of work over the past three years and have fostered a valuable network of expertise and ideas for wrestling with family forest challenges.  The time is right to commit to a formal structure, deepen the working relationship with FSC-US family forest initiatives and dedicating a full-time person to carrying out this important work plan,” said Ian Hanna, Director of Northwest Certified Forestry for Northwest Natural Resource Group and upcoming Director of Development for FSC-US.


The national gathering was co-planned with a meeting of the FSC-US Family Forests Working Group, held on November 4, 2009, where progress on the development of family forest indicators within the FSC-US standard was presented.


“We are looking forward to finalizing the development of these family forest indicators following a final 60-day comment period on the current draft.  The working group has advanced this draft with remarkable focus and with an expert eye on producing a standard that best fits the scale of family forests while maintaining the rigor of FSC-certified forest management.  We will next work with the working group and other members of the Alliance to develop companion guidance documents and other tools for facilitating the uptake of this standard,” said Karen Steer of the FSC-US Family Forests Program.


Details of the national gathering proceedings and the 2010 work plan will be posted on FSC Family Forests Alliance website:




About the FSC Family Forests Alliance


In 2007, the core organizers of the FSC Family Forest Alliance hosted an inaugural national gathering at the Wingspread Conference Center in Racine, Wisconsin, and the outcomes of that gathering defined the Alliance’s first Action Plan. Since that meeting the Alliance has been focused on efforts to develop family forest standards as a part of the FSC standards revision process. The Alliance partners have also initiated carbon credit projects for family forest owners, supported marketing alliances and participated in FSC’s global efforts with small forest holders.


Since 2007, the FSC Family Forests Alliance (FFA) has pursued four primary purposes:
* Advocate for FSC policies, public policies, and procurement policies that better serve FSC-certified family forests. 
* Operate as a forum to share information and strategies for successful models of certification, forest management, policy development, and market development. 
* Provide more visible networks and membership opportunities for family forest owners who feel underserved by existing forest management models and landowner organizations. 
* Work collaboratively to develop new resources and tools for group certification programs.


Dovetail Partners, Inc. served as the first Secretariat to the FSC Family Forests Alliance. The Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands will serve in this capacity from 2009-2011.


Alliance Organizers:
* Harry Groot, Blue Ridge Forest Cooperative, Christiansburg, VA 
* Don Arnosti, Community Forestry Resource Center, Minneapolis, MN 
* Kathryn Fernholz, Dovetail Partners, Minneapolis, MN 
* John Gunn, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Brunswick, ME 
* Ian Hanna, Northwest Natural Resource Group, Port Townsend, WA 
* Alyx Perry, Southern Forests Network, Asheville, NC 
* Kate Albert Read, Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands , New Gloucester, ME