Osi Community Forest Fund

Community Forest Fund (Completed)

Image Credit: Jerry Monkman

In 2010, OSI launched this innovative fund to encourage and accelerate the locally-based community forest movement to preserve local culture, provide outdoor recreation opportunities, support economic stability, and protect valuable natural resources. OSI’s Community Forest Fund was the first – and thus far remains the only – private grant source focused solely on nurturing and supporting these community-driven forest conservation projects.

Beginning in the late 1980s, global market forces led timber companies to sell millions of acres of forestland. This transformation upended local economies and threatened to fragment the vast wild forest stretching across northern New England. Towns saw lands that had long been open — for hunting, fishing, camping and boating — divided and sold to distant landowners.

  • Young cyclists enjoy the Catamount Community Forest in Catamount, Vermont.
  • Maine's Bethel Community Forest was created with the help of an OSI grant.
  • Community volunteers help rebuild trails within the Ascutney Mountain Community Forest, site of a former ski resort.
  • Children enjoy Page Pond Community Forest in Meredith, New Hampshire.

By giving towns control over their own natural resources – and by building civic participation as town leaders, nonprofits, and citizens work together to purchase, conserve, and steward woodland – community forests are a powerful force for strengthening rural communities and ensuring long-term forest conservation in the region.

A groundswell of concern led to a renewed interest in community forests. In this land-use model of the 19th and 20th centuries, towns themselves own and manage forestland, and directly benefit from its natural resources. Sustainably managed, community forests can provide jobs, wood and other forest products, water protection, outdoor recreation, and revenues to support education and other town services. OSI and other land conservation organizations joined in to support this budding movement with research, training, and funding.

Impact of the Community Forest Fund

What You Can Do

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