World Rainforest Movement

USA: The National Network of Forest Practitioners

The National Network of Forest Practitioners (NNFP) is a grassroots alliance of rural people who are striving to build an ecologically sound forest economy whose benefits are accessible to communities that have traditionally depended on the forest for their well-being. NNFP’s 500 members include community-based non-profits, small businesses, indigenous groups, forest workers, researchers, agency officials, and landowners. They are engaged in a variety of activities, including watershed protection and restoration, ecotourism, job training, non-timber forest products, and value-added wood manufacturing. As one of the leading community forestry organizations in the United States, the NNFP provides practitioners of sustainable forestry and people in forest-dependent communities with information and technical assistance, a forum for networking and organizing, and a meaningful role in national discussions about forests and rural communities. Together, NNFP members are advocating for a fundamental shift in forestry and forest conservation, toward placing greater value on the long-term well-being of the environment and communities.

Many rural communities across the United States have historically depended on neighboring forests for their cultural, economic, and environmental well-being. Just over a decade ago, faced with a barrage of daunting challenges –including ecological degradation, unemployment, emigration and the decline of community capacity, globalization, and the lack of meaningful public involvement in decision making on public lands– rural communities began to organize to gain greater control of their future, and to ensure that forest management is ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially just.

In true grassroots fashion, the groups these communities formed took many shapes and sizes, but most tended to be community-based non-profits or small, “green” businesses. Their activities covered an array of disciplines, including watershed protection and restoration, ecotourism, job training, non-timber forest products, and value-added wood manufacturing. Many groups represented the first efforts by communities to come together to solve difficult problems, and many of these organizations have grown up to become community institutions. In 1990, these groups joined with forest workers, indigenous groups, and progressively-minded researchers and agency officials to form the National Network of Forest Practitioners.

The NNFP is committed to strengthening the capacity of its members and to building a strong and diverse national coalition in support of rural communities and the forests on which they depend. The Network seeks to accomplish these goals by:

– Providing peer training and technical assistance through workshops, referrals, and publications

– Offering opportunities for members to share knowledge and inspiration through Network gatherings and working groups

– Promoting and practicing respect for all cultures that live and work in the forest, and embracing cultural diversity as a positive force for strengthening communities and conserving forests

– Supporting local and regional networks that can deliver more focused assistance to members on an ongoing basis

– Providing access to policy makers, agency officials, funding sources, research, and researchers

– Helping to build collective clout in the development of national policies by organizing forums on policy issues, legislative trainings, and other activities

– Increasing the national visibility of practitioners by acting as a clearing house for information on community forestry efforts around the country

– Through its National Community Forestry Center, conducting research, and helping people in rural, forest-based communities build their research capacity

– Serving as the North American point of contact for the Global Caucus on Community-Based Forest Management.

For more information or to become a member, please contact Thomas Brendler, Executive Director (tel: 1-401 273-6507; e-mail: thomas@nnfp.org ) or visit http://www.nnfp.org . Readers are also invited to subscribe to the NNFP’s biweekly email newsletter at http://www.topica.com/lists/nnfp-fcn@igc.topica.com

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