Forest Future Described in New UMaine Report

Contact: Bruce Wiersma, Center for Research on Sustainable Forests at (207) 581-3798

ORONO AND AUGUSTA– Maine people, New England’s governors, and officials in the Obama Administration have all expressed interest in landscape scale conservation, creating an unprecedented opportunity to conserve Maine forests and maintain the values they provide for Maine’s residents and visitors.

This is the central theme emerging from 18 month effort resulting in a report that will be presented to Gov. John Baldacci in the State House Cabinet Room Thursday Nov. 5 at 2:30 p.m.

A variety of key groups and individuals created the report by evaluating the economic and environmental condition of the famed North Woods as well as forests in the towns and cities of Maine, covering 17 million acres in all, or 90% of the state.  Former University of Maine College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture Dean Bruce Wiersma led the effort, aimed at developing recommendations for how to maintain the value of Maine’s forests into the future. The group recognized the importance of timber production, wildlife habitat, recreation ranging from snowmobiling to backcountry canoeing, and environmental values.

Participants included landowners and managers, representatives of forest products companies, sawmill operators and loggers, and several conservation groups, including the Natural Resource Council of Maine, the Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club. Also involved were state and federal officials from several forest agencies. The study was coordinated by the University of Maine’s Center for Research on Sustainable Forests, which Wiersma directs.

Panelists heard from numerous experts about conservation easements, climate science, forest economics, new fiber-based products, land use planning and Maine woods history.

Among the recommendations of the group is pursuit of a new, more robust public/private partnership to conserve large unfragmented and undeveloped tracts of forest land for a variety of uses, including timber production, recreation, wildlife habitat and resource protection.

Consultant Douglas Rooks wrote the report, which also outlines steps to maintain the sustainably managed forest, enhance recent conservation efforts, and promote a broad variety of economic and recreational uses.

Gov. Baldacci will share his thoughts on the project and the topic addressed by the group that created the report.

“Maine’s forests are one of natural features that define Maine, are essential to the quality of life for Maine’s citizens,” Wiersma says.  “This report identifies exciting opportunities that can help shape Maine’s future, and we look forward to sharing the details with the governor and others with interest in Maine’s forests and related policy issues.”