Across Landscapes & Through Generations
We work to perpetuate sustainable, healthy, and diverse forests, woodlands and watersheds across the Sonoma County landscape, and to be a catalyst, source of information, and point of contact for forestland owners.
Our mission is to protect forests across landscapes and through generations. We work to perpetuate sustainable, healthy, and diverse forests, woodlands and watersheds across the Sonoma County landscape, and to be a catalyst, source of information, and point of contact for forestland owners.
Our strategy is to provide forest landowners with access to information, expert consultants and funding opportunities that they need to steward forestland. Assistance addresses many aspects of forest landownership, including improving forest and watershed health, creating land management plans, accessing funding sources, establishing conservation easements, estate and financial planning, improving fire safety, planning income-generation, enhancing forest carbon sequestration, performing forest inventories, and more.
Our audience is all forest landowners, land managers and natural resource professionals.
The Forest Conservation Working Group grew out of a meeting convened in February, 2005, by Sonoma Land Trust, to talk about the issue of small, private parcels of forest in Sonoma County. The ‘problem’ with these parcels is their abundance in the county; Sonoma County is the most highly parcelized county in California (Greenbelt Alliance, 2006) and covers a diverse range of landscapes and ecosystems. This relatively small size of ownership creates parcels that are uneconomic for timber harvest or rangeland, historic uses of this land when it was in larger parcels. The general use at this time is ‘no-action’.
Financial return is not the only barrier to active management. Studies and surveys conducted by members of the working group have revealed multiple facets to the problem. Many landowners:
- lack the knowledge and information needed to make good management decisions;
- lack financial resources or lack awareness of the available programs providing financial assistance;
- do not see the connection between poor forest health and heightened fire risk;
- do not often partner with neighbors to make management decisions at a larger landscape scale;
- lack the ‘social permission’ to cut trees, a product of preservationist philosophy
The solution to the problem was to assist small-parcel landowners in accessing the resources they need to take an active approach to managing their woods. We also promote the essential message that active forestland stewardship is the best approach to achieving environmental conservation, public safety, fire prevention, natural beauty and recreation opportunities.
Since 2005, the Forest Conservation Working Group has grown from a small group to a robust network of forest landowners, land managers, foresters, land trusts, watershed councils, non-profits, government agencies, researchers and educators.
After the 2017 and 2019 fires, public interest in forest management increased. Community members raised concerns about the county’s homes and landscapes and how they could be better managed for wildfire safety. As a result, the Working Group saw a great influx of new members and collaborations to address in earnest the need for fire-safe landscapes.
A Look Ahead
Catastrophic wildfire and increasing challenges of climate change have tested our community and revealed new information about our diverse, resilient and valuable landscape. In these unprecedented times, we hope that Sonoma County will join us in taking a new approach.
We invite land managers to:
- Educate themselves on forest management
- Make a forest management plan
- Work together, in community, to make a positive change
- Reap the benefits of sustainable stewardship