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

Formally Refereed
Authors: Meredith Hovis, Gregory Frey, Kathleen McGinley, Frederick Cubbage, Xue Han, Megan Lupek
Year: 2022
Type: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Southern Research Station
Source: Forests


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, 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.


community forests, Eastern United States, recreation, ecosystem services, governance, public participation


Hovis, Meredith; Frey, Gregory; McGinley, Kathleen; Cubbage, Frederick; Han, Xue; Lupek, Megan. 2022. Ownership, Governance, Uses, and Ecosystem Services of Community Forests in the Eastern United States. Forests. 13(10): 1577-.