Forest Management Plan


RFC relies heavily on long-term planning to manage our 49,767 acre Usal Redwood Forest in an environmentally responsible, socially acceptable, and economically viable fashion. Our Forest Management Plan, first published in March 2015, took more than ten years in development. It is a comprehensive statement of Redwood Forest Foundation Inc.’s policies and practices for managing the Usal Forest and is intended as a guiding document for the Usal Redwood Forest Company’s forest management professionals. This Forest Management Plan is a living document that is reviewed annually and revised as new information and community input become available. Community involvement is the cornerstone of the Redwood Forest Foundation’s work in the Usal Redwood Forest. We welcome your  questions and suggestions. Email:

Harvest Methods & Plans

The current forest condition (Charts 1-3) determines how the Usal Redwood Forest will be harvested (Chart 4). Two important aspects of the Usal Redwood Forest can be seen from the graphs. First, the forest is young, and second, it is dominated by hardwoods.

Vegetation Management (Herbicide Moratorium)

In order to address the social and environmental aspects of community forestry, the RFFI Board has instructed the URFC to not use forest herbicides to manage competing vegetation. Instead the URFC uses more costly, time-consuming non-chemical techniques, i.e., manual cutting, mastication, etc.

Over the course of the moratorium, RFFI will evaluate the costs and effectiveness of these methods of arresting competing vegetation. Evaluation criteria will most likely include worker safety issues, costs, and seedling response (growth).

The Usal Redwood Forest, owned and managed by the Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc. (RFFI) and its subsidiary, the Usal Redwood Forest Company (URFC), was awarded certification from the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) as a “well managed forest” in 2015. FSC ® certification assures that RFFI’s management of the Usal Forest conforms to an International and National set of standards assuring sustainable forest management. These standards establish expected levels of performance addressing social, economic and environmental parameters recognizing the context of how forests support and nurture local communities and industries. The certifying body, Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) is a California-based organization who has been a founding member of the FSC ® movement. Their Vice President of Forest Management Programs is a UC-Berkeley trained forester and an international leader in the certification movement.
RRFI’s long-term goal for the Usal Redwood Forest is to attain a forest dominated by merchantable redwoods and Douglas-fir trees. The forest is now dominated by under-sized conifers and hardwoods, the legacy of past forest extraction programs. FSC ® certification ensures third-party oversight of the decisions and actions of the RFFI Board, over time, to insure that the standards of sustainable forest management are not violated. This collaborative effort between RFFI and FSC® establishes a business relationship with both parties working together for the same desired goals. As with all forest management programs this is just another component of a large and complex process with the intended outcome of assuring an ecologically functional, economically viable, and socially acceptable forest management operation.

FSC-logo2FSC ® Principles and Criteria provide a foundation for all forest management standards globally, including the
FSC ® US National Standard (v1.0) that guides forest management certification in the U.S. FSC® certification ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits. The FSC® Principles and Criteria provide a foundation for all forest management standards globally, including the FSC
® US National Standard (v1.0) that guides forest management certification in the U.S.

Forest Stewardship Council®

Conservation Policies

In 2011, the Redwood Forest Foundation (RFFI) closed a landmark conservation transaction on their 49,576-acre Usal Redwood Forest. The Foundation sold a conservation easement on the Usal Redwood Forest to the non-profit Conservation Fund.

This ambitious and complex transaction allows RFFI and our conservation partners to protect one of the largest non-profit owned ‘working forests’ in America – a forest landscape that covers a land area almost twice the size of the city of San Francisco. The transaction was completed with the support of a strong coalition of national and local elected officials, conservation organizations, private foundations, industry leaders and committed regional residents.

Carbon Sequestration

RedwoodForest-John-BirchardRFFI is engaged in a complex, multi-faceted effort to certify the carbon that is and will be sequestered through implementation of its conservation strategy. After four years of diligent work with our advisor, US Forest Capital, RFFI has successfully registered 3,166,372 tons of Usal Redwood Forest carbon with California’s Climate Action Reserve (CAR).  The Usal Redwood Forest carbon project is one of the largest forest carbon sequestration projects in the country. CAR registration is a significant step towards registering the Usal Forest’s carbon project with the California Air Resources Board (ARB).  As part of CAR’s early action program, an independent third-party verified the carbon sequestered by Usal’s sustainable forest management practices.  The second step, i.e., independent verification of carbon measurements by a third-party verifier, was completed in May 2016. This moves the project forward for review and final registration by California’s Air Resources Board. It is anticipated that the Usal Forest carbon project will be approved by the ARB by late 2016. With ARB approval, Usal’s carbon credits will be registered as “compliance” credits that can be sold to companies that are required to offset carbon emissions by California’s landmark climate change policies.

On May 5, 2016, the Redwood Forest Foundation was honored by California’s Climate Action Reserve as a Top 2015 Project Developer for Usal Redwood Forest Company’s Carbon Offset Project.  RFFI was recognized for achieving the highest level of emissions reduction of any project in 2015.

Carbon registration is an essential step in RFFI’s long-standing plan to develop revenue streams that do not rely exclusively on timber production. The sale of carbon credits is part of a strategy that will allow the Redwood Forest Foundation to further its sustainable forest stewardship program. This revenue source will support RFFI’s sustainable forest management by reducing the financial pressure to harvest trees to service our debt, allowing RFFI to improve forest health and address climate change.