Traditional sustainable forestry principles dictate that a landowner not harvest more timber than is grown over a period of time. Over the last four decades, however, there has been considerable and often contentious debate over whether and how this definition incorporates other measures of sustainability including conservation of old-growth, native tree species, threatened and endangered species habitat and water quality. This evolving definition of sustainable forestry further recognizes what a forest can provide to local communities and the ecological services it renders.
RFFI conducted a long-term forest planning process to define how both traditional and recent definitions of sustainability can be integrated to maintain and enhance the region’s economy and environment. For starters RFFI created a “Base Conservation Plan” that was integrated into the conservation easement requirements:
- Prohibits fragmentation and development of the property
- Limits harvest to 2.9% of inventory;
- Creates buffers along intermittent streams;
- Transforms the property from even-age to uneven-age management; and,
- Requires Forest Stewardship Council certification within 5-years.asement
This Base Conservation Plan serves as a base, or floor, from which conservation benefits are growing over time. For example, in 2015 after 8 years of soliciting advice, RFFI published a Forest Management Plan for the Usal Redwood Forest. Further, as part of this plan and the requirements of the conservation easement, RFFI secured Forest Council Certification in 2015. Cal Fire, and before them, The Conservation Fund monitor the forest’s management and issue yearly reports