Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack held a national conference call to highlight a U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service (FS) report entitled Private Forests, Public Benefits, showing that privately held forests in the United States are under substantial stress from development and fragmentation and that increased housing density in forests will exacerbate other threats to forests from wildfire, insects, pathogens and pollution. These threats to the important goods and services provided by privately owned forests, which make up 56 percent of all forested lands, emphasize the importance of the collaborative, cross-boundary approach to conserving and restoring our forests.
Private Forests, Public Benefits is one of a series of reports prepared by the Forests on the Edge project. This report uses geographic information systems to identify watersheds where private forests contribute the greatest amount of goods and services in terms of clean water, timber and wildlife habitat as well as where these goods and services are most at risk from increased housing density as well as insect pests and disease, wildfire and air pollution.
The Forests on the Edge project seeks to increase public awareness of the importance of conserving America's private forests, creates tools for strategic planning and provides Congress and FS partners with better information on the values of and challenges facing our nation's open space. To obtain maps or a copy of Private Forests, Public Benefits go to www.fs.fed.us/openspace/fote/index.html.